Every year around this time, I think back to my experience with the NFL draft. It’s a constant reminder that dreams come true.

I can’t believe it was eight years ago already. It feels like it was so much more recent—even though the time between when I thought I was going to be drafted and when I actually did get drafted seemed to last forever.

After my junior year at Texas, I had the option to declare for the draft, but I wasn’t sure. I wanted to see how high I might go in the draft before I decided, and they have this whole process you go through to find out what round you’re projected to go.

I still remember when I got the paper with the results. “First round to second round,” it said. That’s when I was like, “Okay, I’m going to leave.”

If that paper would have said fourth to fifth round, then I would have stayed at Texas. But we were all excited. We were hearing people say how good I was, and how high I was supposed to go.

That made it tougher when the draft didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.

DRAFT DAY

Back then, the first day of the draft was both the first and second rounds. Since we thought for sure I was going in the second round at the latest, I had my whole family around me the whole time. We were all at the house of one of my advisors that I looked up to, Mr. James Payne. There were like 30 people there. It was going to be a great night.

And then it wasn’t.

As name after name and player after player came off the board, I was getting more and more upset. I was so ashamed that I had invited all those people around me to see me get drafted, and I wasn’t getting picked.

In the moment, I was feeling bad about myself, thinking I’d made a mistake and that I should have stayed in school. When those first two rounds ended, I broke down and started crying. I was wondering, “Why am I not first or second round talent? Why don’t people think I’m good enough?”

Everything came into question.

I stayed with my aunt Arlene a lot growing up, and that night, I slept at her house, just crying away. But by the next day, I was looking forward.

Everyone around me was encouraging me, saying, “Don’t get down. You’ve got the next day to go and how whatever happens is meant to be.” That support was so important for me, just having people on my side and helping motivate me, not letting me get down.

We watched the draft at my aunt’s the next day with a much smaller group: My aunt and my cousin, a friend of mine, David, and my wife, who I was dating at the time. They ended up sticking it out with me, and after like 10 picks on the second day, I got drafted.

That was all I really wanted. At that moment, I realized it didn’t really matter which round I was drafted in.

All I really wanted was my dream to come true.

A PLEASANT SURPRISE

It turned out just like my family said. Everything happens for a reason and God has a plan.

That’s why I ended up in Kansas City.

When the Chiefs picked me, it was definitely a surprise. I never thought I would be a Kansas City Chief. I didn’t do a visit with them, and I didn’t talk really to them at the NFL Combine.

The teams I thought were really interested were Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Tampa Bay. I had to talked to Tampa Bay a lot, and I thought they were a good opportunity for me. The Chiefs weren’t even in my mind.

But when I got that call, I was so excited.

It didn’t take long after I got there to realize, “Okay, I’ve got a chance to really play here.” I came to consider it a blessing to have that many other running backs go in front of me because it gave me that motivation to push even harder. I didn’t want to just come in to a place and be sitting on the sidelines the whole time to start my career. I had an opportunity to come in and be the third-down back right away, and I thought I did pretty well.

It worked out to be everything I wanted it to be.

All I really wanted was the chance to prove myself, and the Chiefs gave that to me. I’ve always had to work hard to showcase my abilities, so I was ready to work. I play the sport mainly to make an impact and for the opportunity to be great.

When I fell to the third round of the draft, I had the choice to let it motivate me, or I could’ve let it destroy me. The way things went taught me a lot about myself. It honestly helped me as a person and as a player.

THE OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME

All these years later, I’m still amazed at what I’ve been able to turn that motivation and the opportunity the Chiefs gave me into. Back then, I couldn’t have imagined it. I just tried to take advantage of the opportunity, and was thinking, “Man, I want to be great!”

That’s the way you have to approach it after you get drafted. And that’s the only thing I’d tell these guys who are about to hear their names called.

No matter where you are picked, if you are drafted into the NFL, that should be one of the most amazing times in your life.

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine it happening for you, but I’m proof that dreams can still come true, so don’t let anything discourage you. You can become whatever you want to be. You can be great. All you have to do is keep working hard to pursue your dreams and strive for greatness.