Jerrell Freeman’s Long Road to the NFL

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Photo by
Adam Cervenka @acerv022
September 14, 2016

Eight years after graduating from Mary Hardin-Baylor as the schools all-time leading tackler, Jerrell Freeman finally finds himself in a position he’s worked his whole life to achieve. Freeman, who graduated from Waco University High School in 2004, enrolled at, DIII, Mary Hardin-Baylor after receiving no major scholarship offers during his high school career.

With the Crusaders, or “The Cru”, Freeman was a force to be reckoned with at the middle linebacker position, proven by a resume that includes two All-American honors and a 2007 Defensive Player of the Year. While his dominance was known to NFL teams and scouts around the nation, the 2008 NFL Draft came and went without Freeman’s name being called.

Though no one was willing to risk a draft pick on him, the Tennessee Titans’ signed him as an undrafted free agent almost immediately following the draft. After getting cut following the Titans’ OTA’s, Freeman was out of a job for all of a week before receiving a second chance from Tennessee due to an injury depleted roster. However, once again Freeman found himself out of a job after being cut just a week into his second stint with the team. Following his second cutting, Freeman returned to Mary Hardin-Baylor where he spent an entire year coaching and waiting for a second chance in the league.

After spending the 2008 year regathering himself, Freeman approached the 2009 offseason with one thing in mind: getting a chance. Though the NFL is the main goal for all aspiring football prospects, Freeman’s first chance came via a phone call from Regina, Canada. After working out for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in San Antonio, Freeman finally found himself signing his first, true professional football contract. With the Roughriders, Freeman quickly moved up the totem pole.

He started off his career being nominated as the team’s Most Outstanding Rookie and ended it as the CFL season-leader in tackles with 105. In 2012, Freeman got the phone call that he’d been working for over the past three years: another chance in the NFL. The Indianapolis Colts signed Freeman on January 16, 2012 and the rest is history. Freeman spent four successful season in Indianapolis before signing a three year $12 million contract with the Chicago Bears this past offseason. Eight years removed from being cut twice by the same team in one offseason, Jerrell Freeman has finally found himself in a solidified starting spot in the NFL.

In a world where stars seem to control the lives of prospects and teams alike, Jerrell Freeman has proven to young players around the nation that no matter where they are on recruiters big boards, hard work and dedication to their craft have the ability to help them achieve their ultimate goals.

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Brian DeMarco
Brian DeMarco
4 years ago

What a great story of perseverance. No fear, face the daily grind, and earn the right to win. Great article Adam.

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