Local Fare: Former area standouts making their marks in NFL
NFL fans around the world are familiar with Jimmy Garoppolo.
After backing up all-time great Tom Brady for four years with the Patriots, the Rolling Meadows High School product was traded to the 49ers and Jimmy G helped get them back into the playoffs this season after guiding San Francisco to the Super Bowl in 2019.
As we launch a new venture spotlighting athletic success throughout the Daily Herald's circulation area, we'll turn the spotlight on local success stories in all sports.
With footballs still flying at the pro level, let's kick off with a look at former area standouts in the NFL who might not be as well known as Garoppolo.
Coming out of Naperville Central High School, the tight end had scholarship offers to play football at bigger programs. Brate chose Harvard.
"He is the son of two teachers and that has grounded him as an athlete and a student," said Redhawks coach Mike Ulreich. "He has earned his way in every stage of his athletic career, but most importantly he enjoyed every step. It was never about the next level but making the most out of every situation he was in. We are so happy for Cam and the success he has had and proud of the man he has become."
After starring in the Ivy League, the undrafted Brate signed with Tampa Bay and was buried on the practice squad. Finally getting a shot with the Buccaneers in 2015, the 6-foot-5, 245-pounder has become a regular target for QB Tom Brady.
Brate had 3 receptions for 29 yards in the Bucs' playoff win over the Eagles last weekend after catching 30 passes for 245 yards and 4 touchdowns during the season.
The Watts (T.J., J.J., Derek) and Edmunds (Trey, Terrell, Tremaine) get more attention as brother trios in the NFL, but don't forget about Ryan, Graham and Jordan Glasgow.
Graduates of Marmion Academy in Aurora, the Glasgows all started their collegiate careers as walk-ons at Michigan before becoming NFL draft picks.
The Glasgow brothers were in the NFL together last year. Ryan a defensive tackle for the Bengals and Saints, retired before this season. Graham is a starting offensive lineman for the Broncos and Jordan is a linebacker for the Colts.
"The one consistent attribute that they all possess is their great work ethic," said Marmion coach Dan Thorpe. "This was evident at Marmion, both in the classroom and on the field. They had tremendous belief in themselves and worked hard to maximize their talents. And they all were playmakers in practice and in games. They always rose to the occasion."
A star at St. Viator High School and Notre Dame before the Bears drafted him on the second round in 2020, the tight end showed his potential this season.
Starting all 17 games, Kmet was second on the Bears in catches (60) and receiving yards (612).
One of the best high school running backs in Illinois history at Glenbard North, Jackson moved on to Northwestern and became the Wildcats' all-time leading rusher.
Still going strong at football's highest level, Jackson just wrapped up his fourth season with the Chargers and averaged 5.4 yards a carry while scoring 2 touchdowns.
The Barrington High School grad really made a name for himself last year, catching a 29-yard touchdown pass against the Green Bay in the NFC title game and helping Tampa Bay advance to the Super Bowl, where the Buccaneers rolled over the Chiefs.
Miller was mostly quiet this season due to a turf toe injury and the Bucs' impressive depth at wide receiver.
Tampa Bay's sixth-round draft pick in 2019 out of Bowling Green, Miller revved back up late in the year with a 33-year TD run against Carolina in the Jan. 9 regular season finale. Along with Brate, he'll be on the field for the Buccaneers Sunday in the NFC divisional playoff game vs. the Rams.
Coming out of Naperville North High School, the tight end wasn't highly recruited but he made the most of his stop at Illinois State.
After three productive seasons with the Redbirds, O'Shaughnessy was drafted by the Chiefs on the fifth round in 2015 and he played two seasons with Kansas City before joining Jacksonville.
Limited to 7 games due to a hip injury this year, the 6-foot-4, 245-pound starter had 24 catches and 244 yards for the Jaguars.
Naperville North coach Sean Drendel still has fond memories of O'Shaughnessy's prep run with the Huskies.
"James had great passion to play the game, but his passion for practice was even better," Drendel said. "With James, I have more pride with who he is as a person. James has no problem coming back in the summer. It doesn't have to be the James O'Shaughnessy camp. He'll come out and speak to our youth camps, he'll speak to our team. Just a good, humble person. Knows where he came from and the NFL doesn't define him. It's a job for him and he has great passion to play. What defines him is he's just a great person."