By Van Adams, Player Engagement Insider
No one enters the NFL Draft aspiring to be the very last selection. But everyone entering the NFL Draft aspires to be selected by a team at some point during the process.
As the saying goes: “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” a familiar adage that rings true for one “Mr. Irrelevant” in particular, Ryan Succop, who was the 256th overall selection by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Growing up, Succop was a four-sport student athlete playing football, soccer, golf, and basketball at Hickory High School in North Carolina where he was a four-time all-conference and two-time all-state selection. His soccer abilities earned him a three-time all-state selection. Coming out of high school Succop was rated as the fourth best kicker in the nation.
He briefly contemplated playing golf in college, but ultimately decided on football after accepting a scholarship to the University of South Carolina where he had a stellar collegiate football career while double majoring in finance and management.
Succop’s NFL career got off to a great start earning All-Rookie honors and taking home the Chiefs' Mack Hill Lee Award, an honor given to the team's most outstanding rookie as voted on by his teammates and coaches.
Eight years later, “Mr. Irrelevant” is still lacing them up in the National Football League with the Tennessee Titans.
Getting the Call.
I knew there was a chance I was going to get drafted, but there was also a chance that I wouldn’t. You just never know. I had a really good peace about the whole process. The Lord was going to put me where he wanted me. Through my faith I was able to sit back and relax and enjoy it and not be anxious or nervous. I knew God had a plan for me. I didn't know what it was, but I trust Him and it worked out cool.
When the call came, I was in South Carolina with close family and friends. I was really excited to have a chance to do something that I love to do for a living. It was a lot of fun getting that phone call.
Embracing the “Mr. Irrelevant” Distinction.
It’s been a really neat deal. There’s the side where people think you’re not going to make the team and you’ll never play in the NFL… it provides a little bit of motivation because there’s that part of you that wants to prove everybody wrong. America loves the underdog. People identify with a humble beginning and seeing people work their way on to whatever they define as success. Many people get behind you and want to see you do well. It’s been a great platform for me to use my story to help inspire and motivate others.
Rewarding Aspects of Being a Professional Athlete.
It’s been a very blessed road, something I certainly don't take for granted. You have to continue to work hard. It’s not easy, but it’s worth putting in the work. Being a part of a team, the friendships you make along the way with players and coaches. It’s a blessing to be able to provide for your family and have a platform that gives you the opportunity to do things that you’re passionate about and support causes that you’re passionate about are all positive things.
Keys to Success.
I’ve been blessed to work with a lot of great people. I’ve been able to play for a lot of great coaches. I’ve been able to play with a lot of great teammates - great snappers, great holders, great friends. I’ve been fortunate to have stayed healthy and continue to learn and get better.
Words of Encouragement for This Year’s Draft Class.
Enjoy the process because it’s something you only get to do once and there are so few people in this world who will ever get to experience that moment. Relax. It really doesn’t matter where you start in terms of what round you’re drafted in, it matters what you do once you actually get there. Go in motivated and make the most of it. Look at my story, when I started I was the very last pick and eighty years later I still get to play this game.
How He Spends His Time In The Off-Season.
I love to play golf (golf handicap is 0) and I love to hunt and fish. I’m a big bowhunter—whitetail deer, duck hunting, and turkey hunting in the spring. And now with the little one (he and wife Paige welcomed their first son, Cooper, last fall), spending time with him is as good as it gets.
Best Advice Received.
My rookie year, my special teams coach, Steve Hoffman (currently with the Titans), told me ‘There’s going to be ups and downs throughout your career. It’s how you respond during the downtimes that matter. Stay positive through it all even when things don’t go your way.’
Who Inspires Him.
Jesus. I try to live for Him everyday.
A really good steak.
Favorite TV Show.