Imagine spending years preparing for the most important job interview of your life only to have that chance ripped away from you in an instant.
This is the story of Jets defensive back Jeremy Reeves.
Reeves had just finished up a senior season at Iowa State University on a high note. He was named Defensive Player of the Game in the Liberty Bowl, he played in the inaugural Raycom College Football All-Star Classic, and he was honored with an All-Big 12 honorable mention as voted on by the coaches.
"I really don't know what round I was going to go in because of my size," the 5'7", 176-pounder told me, "but I wanted to show teams how athletic I was, how I could jump and run and stuff like that. And I wasn't able to."
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That's because Reeves was forced to go under the knife for a torn pectoral muscle less than three weeks before the Cyclones' 2013 pro day.
Suddenly, Reeves faced a life-altering decision: Move on from his dreams of playing in the NFL or spend the next year of his life devoted to rehabbing, staying in shape and hoping he could remain one of the hundreds of blips on one of 32 teams' radars. He chose the latter.
"It was tough because you never know what's going to happen, especially for a guy my size," he said. "Sometimes you're going to get knocked out of the market and they're not even going to think about you anymore. So I had to do something. I had to have a great pro day the next time around to get a team's attention."
And he did.
Reeves' 40-yard dash at this year's ISU pro day had every scout in attendance double-checking his stopwatch after he sprinted the distance in a blazing 4.29 seconds. His 43" vertical and 11'6" broad jump were arguably more impressive. Kent State RB Dri Archer was the only participant in this year's NFL Combine to run faster. No one jumped higher or farther.
"That's why they picked me up," Reeves said before cracking a smile and letting go a laugh
"Any time you get a chance, that's wonderful, that's great," he said, "but then you have to play up to your ability."
The man can run and jump with the best of them, but not everyone can translate that athleticism into on-field football success. So far so good, though, for Jeremy Reeves.
"The little Reeves – is it Revis or Reeves? I'm not sure." head coach Rex Ryan said facetiously in reference to the five-time Pro Bowler currently residing in New England. "It's just funny because we brought him in, 'OK, he'll be a little nickel. And oh, by the way, get outside.' And all of a sudden he's making plays."
Including an interception that he returned for a touchdown during one of the OTA practices.
"I was guarding [Greg] Salas, he did a post route and I stayed on top of it," Reeves recounted. "The quarterback threw it far out there so I had to go get it. That's when I was able to open up and show my speed. I was able to get under, catch it and return it.
"It was a good play, but now I'm just trying to make more."
Reeves will have to wait until the team reunites for training camp later this month to continue showing the coaches his capabilities, but until then, a healthy and happy Reeves is simply appreciative of being given an opportunity.
"There's a lot of great guys here, and just to be able to go up against them is a blessing," he said. "I've been through a lot the last year, and then to come up here and be able to play, it's a blessing just to be here."