Austin Proehl has shot to follow NFL footsteps of father, Ricky

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And when Ricky — who played for the Seattle Seahawks in 1995 and 1996, the Chicago Bears in 1997 and the St. Louis Rams beginning in 1998 — signaled to his wife, Kelly, to keep Austin out of the dressing room after a lost game, the toddler protested.

“He would get all upset,” Ricky Proehl told ESPN last week. “He loved being in the locker room, loved being around it, even at 3 [or] 4 years old. From the time he could start walking, he loved just looking at the guys, the helmet, the pads. He was all about it.”

More than two decades later, Austin Proehl is again trying to nudge his way into an NFL locker room — this time as the second-to-last pick of April’s draft by the Buffalo Bills.

Unlike his father, a third-round pick of the Phoenix Cardinals in 1990 who played 17 seasons, the younger Proehl is attempting to emerge from relative obscurity by the end of his college career at North Carolina to earn a roster spot in Buffalo as the No. 255 selection in the draft.

Austin set career highs with 43 catches for 597 yards and three touchdowns in 2016 as a junior but suffered a shoulder injury in the Tar Heels’ fourth game of last season that kept him sidelined until the final two games of 2017. He finished the season with 21 catches for 337 yards and one touchdown.8

There were no all-star game invitations and no trip to the NFL combine. Austin was the 52nd-ranked wide receiver in the 2018 class by NFL Draft Scout and off the radar, which prompted Ricky to try his best to help his son accomplish his dream of playing in the league.

“I reached out to everybody that I knew, from [Bills general manager] Brandon [Beane], to [New York Giants general manager Dave] Gettleman, to [Carolina Panthers general manager] Marty Hurney, to [Arizona Cardinals coach] Steve Wilks, to [Miami Dolphins coach] Adam Gase,” Ricky Proehl said. “All my contacts in the National Football League. I put together a video of Austin running a 40[-yard dash], showing them how fast he was, [and him] doing the [20-yard] shuttle. We did our own combine, and we had other people time [it].

“Because I knew if Austin made it to the combine, he would show people what he was capable of. And he wasn’t able to do that. He didn’t have that opportunity. So I created my own combine tape and sent it out to everybody and anybody that I knew that would look at it.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

By the final day of the draft, April 28, Austin was hearing from several teams about signing as an undrafted free agent. According to his father, the most interest came from the Philadelphia Eagles, whose coach, Doug Pederson, called Austin to express interest in signing him.