By Joe Fortenbaugh and Wes Bunting:
When you think of the wide receiver position, the first word that usually comes to mind is “diva.”
That’s because most wideouts are about flash — and justifiably so. The wide receiver is a unique breed — a showstopper who makes highlight-worthy receptions on a weekly basis while spending his free time working on choreographed end zone dances and giving guys like you and me something to talk about on Monday.
Need an example?
How about Bengals wideout Chad Ochocinco, who is currently competing on “Dancing with the Stars.” Or free agent wide receiver Terrell Owens, who had his own reality TV show last summer. And let’s not forget Philadelphia Eagles pass-catcher DeSean Jackson, who has been known to rock a “get-a-load-of-that-guy” fur coat when the weather turns nasty in the Northeast.
Then there’s Marcus Easley.
This is a guy who chose to go to UConn just for school after only receiving scholarship offers from Division II and smaller Division I schools.
This is a guy who didn’t even play football for the Huskies during his first year at UConn but missed the game so much he went to an open tryout, impressed the coaches and made the team.
This is a guy who had only five collegiate catches and no scholarship at the conclusion of his fourth year of college.
And this is a guy who — in addition to working out in preparation for the NFL draft — is currently working an internship during the day so he can graduate with a degree in sports management this spring.
Yes, you read that right. Easley isn’t just working out, he’s working.
“I’m planning on graduating next month, and for part of that I have to complete an internship [at IMG], which I do from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, trying to get as many hours as I can during the week,” Easley told us during a recent podcast. “After that, I go work out, do some weight training and some field work as well and try to improve my routes.”
But that’s life for Easley. It doesn’t come easy, and it isn’t just handed to him. He’s had to earn it and prove himself every step of the way.
“I kind of have a story now,” he said. “As a walk-on, you have everything to prove at that point. You’re at the bottom of the depth chart, nobody really knows who you are and you’ve got to make a name for yourself.”
Making a name for himself is something Easley’s been doing for the past year.
The 22-year-old finally earned a scholarship at the end of spring practice in 2009. Easley followed that with an impressive senior season, finishing fourth in the Big East in receiving yards (893) and fifth in touchdowns (8).
But it didn’t end there. The 6-3, 210-pounder turned some heads at February’s combine when he ran a 4.45 40-yard dash. After that, it was back to the internship and the long days.
“What got me through the years and to the position I’m in is hard work,” he said. “It started off on special teams. I had to earn my playing time there, and from there, it was a steady progression on offense.”
The next step in that progression takes place in two weeks, when Easley will hear his name called at the 2010 NFL Draft.
To hear the complete interview, be sure to click on the podcast above.
To check out more prospect interviews, click here.