Growing up in Houston (TX), Derrick Shelby wanted nothing more than to be Julius Peppers. He watched Peppers dominate in both football and basketball at the University of North Carolina. He idolized Peppers as he terrorized offenses while a Carolina Panther. But Derrick realized he lacked some of the superhuman abilities of his childhood idol.
Unlike many kids who give up hope of ever being like their childhood hero, Derrick was determined to compete at the highest level of professional football. The 6’2, 270lb defensive end played his college football for Utah. He graduated a Ute, earning his degree last fall, and knew he would be playing on Sunday after earning first-team All-Pac 12 honors as a senior.
But as the NFL Draft rolled along in April, Derrick never heard his name called. His goal of being drafted did not come true. But Derrick refused to let that be the end of his football story.
So Derrick chose to compete.
Derrick signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent. Like many other college players who failed to be drafted, the chances of Derrick making the 53-man roster were slim. It didn’t deter him heading into camp.
Now with two preseason games left, Derrick is on the cusp of making the Miami Dolphins 53-man active roster – something rare for undrafted rookies. Coaches are abuzz about this talented young man who fell in their lap after the draft ended.
“I’ve never been a star in my life,” Derrick told The Miami Herald. “I’ve just been a guy who goes out and does his job, and that’s fine with me. When you’re the underdog, it gives you that much more motivation. Sometimes it’s hard to work, but just think that nobody picked you to win, and you just come out here and win.”
September 2nd is the final cut day for NFL teams. Plan on seeing Derrick Shelby still competing for the Miami Dolphins on September 3. And it will no doubt be ‘mission accomplished.’