Rasul Douglas Overcomes Adversity on Land in NFL - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Rasul Douglas Overcomes Adversity on Land in NFL

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The Philadelphia Eagles picked Rasul Douglas with the No. 99 selection of the 2017 NFL Draft. The Philadelphia Eagles picked Rasul Douglas with the No. 99 selection of the 2017 NFL Draft.
MORGANTOWN -

Rasul Douglas stepped to the podium in Philadelphia sporting a bow tie and a brand new Eagles cap.

He greeted the media that will cover the start of his professional career and the first question he received asked how he would describe the road he took to reach Friday evening when his name was called with the 99th choice in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Just long, hard work – struggle, journey – I would say,” Douglas replied. “I’ve been through a lot of adversity, but I overcame it all.”

Douglas did not take the easiest route to the National Football League. He came to West Virginia University after attending Nassau Community College, but he came close to missing out on that first step.

Out of high school, I didn’t even think about college and didn’t think about going to college,” Douglas said. “My high school coach told me, ‘Go there, make a name for yourself, you can do it.’ And in junior college I struggled: sleeping on the floor and not having any money to eat. I thought about leaving, but my faith grew stronger and I wound up staying.”

In those days, Douglas said, a stop at a fast food joint was a major investment. He would trudge through the snow on foot to the local McDonald’s where he focused on the dollar menu.

“You order five things and you eat two of them at twelve o’clock and you save the other two dollar-menu things for later on in the day,” Douglas recalled. “I think that was one of my craziest days.”

Getting a scholarship at WVU alleviated many of his money concerns and took care of his hunger with a strictly enforced nutrition plan. He jokes now that each meal he eats now is making up for one he had to skip in junior college.

In his senior season with the Mountaineers, reeling in eight interceptions and establishing himself as the most pro-ready defender on the roster, Douglas began to realize that his hard work and his persistence could pay off when the draft came around in April.

He joined former WVU linebacker Najee Goode and last year’s fifth round choice Wendell Smallwood with the Eagles when Philadelphia called him in Friday’s third round.

“Me and Wendell are close,” Douglas told the Philly media. “We just worked out recently and ran a couple hills about a week or two ago.  When I came to West Virginia, he was already there. We played each other in high school before and he was always just a big brother to me. He taught me the ropes and I kind of followed him because he was one of the guys who didn’t do too much wrong.”

The very same day that Douglas spoke with reporters in his new city, Philadelphia chose another Mountaineer, receiver Shelton Gibson.

“Oh he is competitive,” Douglas said of Gibson. “He wants to win and I want to win just as much. So the practices, we go in and we fight. We had the last class of the day [together] before every practice, so we’ll talk to each other and then as soon as practice comes, we hate each other. And now if he catches the ball on me, I’m fighting him, or if I get an interception, he wants to fight me. That’s how practice went for us, very competitive.”

When the draft wrapped up Saturday night, the Eagles added yet another former West Virginia player, offensive lineman Tyler Orlosky. With so many WVU connections on the roster, Douglas will certainly be comfortable as he learns the ropes in his rookie season.

He says that he believes he has a long way to go before he reaches his full potential at the cornerback position and he intends to his the ground running in his effort to repay the Eagles for their confidence in using one of their eight choices on Douglas.

After the long journey to this point, Douglas has no intention of wasting the opportunity.

“Just thinking about what I went through – practicing on an empty stomach, going to school on an empty stomach and you can’t even focus,” Douglas said, “that definitely just makes me want to play all out and hard all the time.”

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