Los Angeles Charger and Eaton alum Austin Ekeler made waves earlier this 12 months with four-year, $24.5 million contract signing. Now, he’s featured on Sports activities Illustrated.
The piece discusses Ekeler’s youth on his step father’s ranch in Eaton, the hurdles he overcame in his taking part in profession earlier than he turned one of the highest-paid running backs within the NFL, and what he’s been as much as for the reason that COVID-19 pandemic started.
The story tells of Ekeler’s unlikely rise to NFL stardom. He began with the Reds, graduating in 2013 and attended Western Colorado. Ekeler started his professional profession in 2017 as an undrafted free agent. His actual declare to fame got here in 2019.
Ekeler totaled 557 yards on 132 makes an attempt and scored three touchdowns for the Chargers. On the receiving finish, he recorded 993 receiving yards on 92 catches for eight TDs, in response to ESPN.
Ekeler starred however not in the identical means as most school soccer heroes. He by no means performed on nationwide tv or caught a go from a five-star quarterback. He carried out at residence video games within the Mountaineer Bowl, with its sweeping scenic views and modest metallic bleachers, often in entrance of some hundred followers. “It sort of match me,” he says, that means he didn’t want any additional motivation. In 4 seasons, Ekeler broke each conceivable speeding report at Western, ending with almost 6,000 speeding yards and scoring 63 instances. In 2016, this system managed seven wins for the primary time in virtually twenty years, behind the captain who carried out air guitar solos after touchdowns. “He was so dominant, however nonetheless, you surprise, as a result of it’s D-II,” his mom says. “We didn’t know if there can be a subsequent step. We didn’t even know the way to go concerning the course of.”
As Ekeler’s senior season unfolded, NFL scouts started to drop by observe, which appeared to point a real curiosity within the small again (5′ 10″, roughly 200 kilos by then) from the small college. The Packers appeared mildly intrigued, as did one specific personnel member of the Chargers, Tom McConnaughey, who instructed Ekeler he ought to no less than be capable of earn a minicamp tryout.
Finally, Ekeler discovered he might take a look at for groups however solely after the College of Colorado held its professional day, though some scouts would have already got left. That was all the possibility he wanted. The personnel of us that lingered, half-focused, seemed up from their notebooks when he clocked a 4.43 40-yard sprint and logged a 40.5-inch vertical leap. At that 12 months’s NFL draft mix, solely future first-rounder Christian McCaffrey had posted comparable specs. Ekeler’s mother watched that professional day from the sphere. Suzanne was struck much less by her son’s accomplishments and extra by the truth that the broader world had began to take discover, and it will proceed to, all the way in which up-to-the-minute he signed that contract.
Learn your complete story on the Sports Illustrated website.