As a wide receiver at the University of Wyoming, Ryan Yarborough was seemingly as common of a sight in the end zone as a goal post.
A two-time All-American, over four seasons with the Cowboys, he caught 231 passes for 2,831 yards, an 18.9 average, and scored 42 touchdowns.
Yet when the NFL held its 1994 Draft, time seemed to stand still for Yarborough before the Jets chose him in the second round, 41st overall.
"I was just happy to finally have my name called more than anything," Yarborough said, "because at that particular time, my brothers, they're older and have their own families now, they were little guys, and so they didn't understand the process of waiting and waiting until you get your name called. So when I got my name called, I was ecstatic to say the least."
And also, to say the least, moving from Laramie, Wyoming to New York could have been a culture shock. Could have been, but in the Yarborough's case, it wasn't.
"I'm from Chicago, so it's not that big of a deal for me to go to New York," Yarborough said. "But coming from Wyoming, it was a big step for the simple fact, leaving from Wyoming to go to New York. But it was not a hard transition for me because New York is just a big Chicago. So it was like I was back home again."
New York's highest drafted wide receiver in four years, Yarborough was joining a couple of veterans who would help him make the transition from college ball to the pros.
"Rob Moore was real good to me. He was definitely a big brother, and looked out for me a lot. The whole receiving corps, we were pretty unified. But the closest guy that I was to, was Stevie Anderson. We were a year apart and he was up and coming, as well," Yarborough said.
"And Art Monk was a great guy. He was in the latter years of his career, but he wasn't one of those old veterans who didn't talk to you or didn't pay you any mind. Art was a great, great, great influence on me. He was very helpful.
"At that level, you're in the NFL, so you're playing with the best athletes in the world. You had to turn your game up a little bit more because everyone out there considered it a job now. And we had some real head busters in the secondary with Ronnie Lott, James Hasty, those type of guys. They didn't take it easy on you, but that was fine by me because that only made me a better player."
Stat-wise, Yarborough had a better season the following year when he caught 18 passes for 230 yards, a 12.8 average, and two touchdowns.
"Just natural progression, that's what it was," Yarborough said. "And just having more opportunities out there. That's basically what everything came down to because going from college to the pros, everybody's a little faster, everybody's a little stronger. But it's more so a mental game with the time management, and things of that nature. So being able to adjust to all of that made things a little smoother."
Things weren't running so smoothly in 1996, Yarborough's third season with the Jets, and he made the decision to leave training camp.
"My mind wasn't there at that particular time," Yarborough said. "I had a whole lot going on off the field and I felt as if what I was going through… now what they call today, is being kind of depressed. Put it that particular way. Mentally, in a lot of areas, just going through stuff on the field, off the field, but it was more so off the field than anything else that led me to that.
"We had a new coaching staff and there were a lot of changes going on. But when it was all said and done, I just felt as if I needed to get my personal life together more so than anything else."
Ultimately traded from New York to Green Bay, Yarborough finished his NFL career by playing the 1997 and '98 seasons with Baltimore. Looking back, what are among the fondest memories from his time with the Jets?
"Just being around the guys and having them help raise you into a young man more so than anything else because I'm still in contact with a lot of guys," Yarborough said. "Money comes and goes, cars come and go, material things come and go, but you always have that bond with guys that you went to war with. Guys that you cried with. Guys that were there for you 24/7.
"That is some of my fondest memories, being able to hang out with the guys that I'd seen coming up throughout high school and college, and being able to know them as people outside of football."
The father of four and grandfather of one, Yarborough makes his home in Houston, Texas. Author of the book – Believe So You Can Achieve! – he heads the Ryan Yarborough Foundation, and as a motivational speaker, travels around the country to talk to adults and children.
"I talk about my book, which is the basic principles that helped me get to the Jets and the highest level of that profession, which was the NFL. It is about basic principles in life to help you get to the next level. It's about respect. It just helps people get to the next level regardless of where they're at," said Yarborough, who is also the Friday co-host of a YouTube show, Matchmaker Hotline.
"I talk to anybody that wants to listen. That wants to receive my message, because I'm more optimistic than pessimistic. I'm 95 percent optimistic, but I'm human. I have some negative thoughts that go through my head at times, but I know that the positive thoughts will outweigh the negative thoughts.
"I hope that they take away positivity rules everything. Just like negativity can rule everything, whatever we put our mind on rules our world. So I choose to live on the positive side because I like the results that come out of positivity."