Shreveport's Robert Rochell didn't have many chances to line up against the best college football players in the country while at Central Arkansas. That changed when the wide receiver turned defensive back received an invite to the Senior Bowl.
"It felt like I belonged there. I felt comfortable. I was able to go up against some good guys, see myself against some good guys, that was good. The practices went well. Just being in that environment, feeling the speed of it, and understand how the NFL coaches coach. The tempo of the practices, how everything flows together, it was great. I'd do it all over."
Last year just six FCS players were selected in the NFL Draft, but the the chip on Rochell's shoulder goes beyond that. Rochell's high school, Fair Park, no longer exists. He is the final Fair Park athlete still representing a school that has always been important to him.
"I asked my mother can I please go there, this is where my whole family went. It meant something different to me. I feel like I'm just holding up a long time legacy for all of the players that came through there, players that went to the league, players that didn't make it, the players that was good enough but fell off on the way there. Definitely just being able to withstand Fair Park and keep that name alive, it's everything."
But Rochelle's journey to the pros has been as difficult as it is unique. In 2009 his father was the victim of a drive-by shooting. Rochell believes he and other prominent athletes in our area can serve as beacons of hope for kids in similar situations.
"We're trying to change the community as a whole together. It is hard for players to make it out there. It is hard for people to even look that way because there is nothing there. We're trying to give back to the community, the little, young kids, the guys coming out of high school. We're trying to invest in those guys and feed them knowledge in areas where they need to keep going."
And when Rochell hears his name called in this year's draft he plans to share the moment with everyone who has helped lead him down this improbable path.
"I know what I've been through, I know what I have sacrificed, I know what my mother has sacrificed for me to be here. To all of those people who invested in me, time, giving me something, pushing me more, words of advice, anything. All of it means something. In that moment when you said it to me or you did it for me, I needed it."