In the summer of 2011, the NFL lockout forced many eyes onto scouting the college crop earlier than usual. Boston College senior Donnie Fletcher ended up on multiple must-watch lists, citing his size (6-0, 199-pounds), fluidity, and ability to stop the run as reasons to pick him up in the 2012 Draft. The kid was on top of his game with a year left to play.
Fletcher suffered a back injury before the season even began.
He sat out just one game, BC's opener against Norwestern, before returning as a starter. But Fletcher didn't seem the same. His senior season stats -- 35 tackles, two interceptions, five pass breakups -- pale in comparison to those posted in an impressive junior campaign (58, five, three).
"Last year was a real humbling experience for me. I had to take kind of a back seat," Fletcher said Wednesday at BC Pro Day. "I was always the starter from freshman year, but once I got hurt I was on the sideline more, watching, not being able to play. I had to take more of a coaching to the younger guys in front of me."
Still, an invite to the Senior Bowl arrived in January. It was invite to the NFL Scouting Combine that never came. Fletcher doesn't deny the snub stung, but said he's using it as fuel.
"I was a little disappointed," he said. "Every year I look on NFL Network and see those DBs working out and end up seeing them go in the Draft. But when I didn't get the invite I was just like, 'I can only control what I can control,' and that's my Pro Day. I just took it as it came. I just worked a little harder; it gave me a little bit more motivation. I just try to take the positive out of what was given to me."
Fletcher spent time training at Fischer Sports Institute in Arizona. Three days a week he punched the clock, working out three times a day from 9-5. He got his 40-yard dash time down from 4.5 at his junior Pro Day, to a blazing 4.38 this year. The 17 reps he did on the 225-pound bench press are another point of pride.
At least one team has noticed his effort; Seattle will host Fletcher for a workout on April 9.
The cornerback hopes more phone calls will fill out the five weeks between now and the Draft. He hopes teams will watch film of his freshman and sophomore year coverage against guys like Hakeem Nicks, Golden Tate, and Torrey Smith.
Until then he'll continue to "work hard, stay humble." Just check his Twitter feed, you'll see the phrase repeated over and over as though determination and discipline will push him through.
Wednesday, a weary Fletcher smiled at the thought.
"That's my little motto. In this game it's easy for you to not be humble when you're given all these blessings. So I just try to work as hard as I can, but also stay as humble as I can throughout the whole process."