I wasn’t here when Eric Decker played at Rocori, but I have heard the tales so often, I might as well have been.
But the thing that surprises me the most is that no matter how good people here in Central Minnesota think he is, it seems to take much longer for the rest of the world to catch up. After heading to the University of Minnesota, Decker played as a true freshman and racked up almost 400 yards on a team that had two future professional wide receivers playing ahead of him. Yet, no one seemed to buy in.
In his sophomore year, Decker broke out, bringing in 68 passes for 909 yards and 9 touchdowns. Not even a mention for the 2007 All-Big Ten team. Then again, the all-time greats of Dorian Bryant and James Hardy had to make the team right?
The following season Decker kicked in the door to stardom in college football. 84 catches, 1,074 yards and 7 touchdowns, including one of the best WR games in Gopher history when he totaled 13 catches for 190 yards in a 16-7 win over the Indiana Hoosiers. No longer could the rest of the country ignore one of college football’s best wide outs. He was named first team All-BigTen as a junior.
He turned down a chance to jump to the NFL and returned to school for his senior year. He was having another good season, but he sprained his foot against Ohio State ending his college career early. Even though he missed time, he still finished with the most catches and receiving yards in Gopher history. Even with his injury, he was still named second team All-BigTen.
So there he was, injured foot, limping into the NFL draft. After all his hard work in college, he had to prove himself again. Draft pundits didn’t think much of the kid from Rocori. Labeled him slow, unable to get off the line of scrimmage and doesn’t show much upside. Many NFL teams seemed to agree. He slipped to the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL draft. The 9th WR taken. Behind gems like Damien Williams and Arrelious Benn.
Guess how many of those 9 players have more catches than Eric Decker’s 114? Two. Team mate Demaryious Thomas and Dez Bryant. Both first round picks. Even though Decker wasn’t taken in the first round, he has put up first round numbers.
Ask anyone from Central Minnesota, they wouldn’t expect anything less. Just ask them.