Last Monday, as I walked around the Bengals practice as a guest of Jim Lippencott, I watched two former Ohio high schoolers working hard to impress the Bengal coaching staff. Both are returners from last year and appear in good standing for this coming season.
What made it special for the "Old Guard," as some Bucknuts guy with no football background referred to me, was that they remembered me. But what made it really special was that coming out of high school, both of these guys were long shots to "play on Sunday."
Andrew Crummey(6'5-300) came to the Bengals midway through last season. With hard work he has become one of, if not, the top back-up O-lineman. He played at Van Wert HS, was big, and could run. For some reason, many of the Midwest schools did not go on him. He had an excellent career at Maryland. Playing for a smaller school program, Andrew had really good feet and OL instincts. He overcame a smaller high school program , and now he makes just a little more money than I do.
Chinedum Ndukwe played his high school career at Dublin Coffman HS, and honestly, when Notre Dame offered him a scholarship, my thought was a package to get Brady Quinn. Chinedum could not run fast. Tough, smart, big(now 6'2-220), but could not run fast. Actually thought he might play at ND as an OLB. After two years as WR, he moved to S. Still was not fast, but fast enough. Anyway, he is alternating at S with the Bengals, but is good enough to start. Now, he too, makes just a little more money than I do.
Of course, there are many stories like this, but for me, watching two OHIO boys get rewarded for all of the work and dedication they put in over the years to "play on Sunday," made the Bengals practice trip very rewarding.