No one said the track to the NFL was an easy one.
Cameron Colvin has been on that track and it has been full of twists and turns. But the 2007 Oregon graduate hasn’t given up on his dream, and maybe it’s proper he currently plays for the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League.
Colvin has been dealing with twists and turns all his life. He didn’t have the “normal” childhood. Far from it.
Colvin’s father passed away of pneumonia and a heart attack at the age of 39 when Colvin was just six year old. If that wasn’t enough, his mom died of congestive heart failure when Colvin was just 15 years old, leaving he and his sister to live with their godmother.
“I think dealing with all of that made me strong,” Colvin said. “My mother taught me a lot in those 15 years. It made me understand life and how to deal with adversity.”
All the while, Colvin was making a name for himself as a wide receiver at De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif.
He always had he dream of playing in the NFL, but a suffered a broken ankle in the sixth game of his senior year at Oregon.
Colvin was one of the top recruits in the country when he came out of De La Salle high in 2004. The five-star standout was the leading vote-getter and consensus No. 1 college recruit in the West among the Long Beach Press-Telegram’s Best in the West elite. Colvin was also the top choice on the Contra Costa Times’ Cream of the Crop list. He led the Big Valley League with 28 catches for 423 yards and six touchdowns in just six games.
In other words, the kid had game.
Those accolades prompted ESPN to invite him to a local station in San Francisco to announce his college of choice. High school students do this all the time now, but it was a rarity eight years ago.
“It was an honor to be one of the first ones to do it,” Colvin said. “I really didn’t decide until on my way to the station.”
Colvin had offers all around the country, but narrowed the choice down to three. It was going to be Oregon, Michigan or USC. NFL star Braylon Edwards was his host at Michigan on a recruiting trip and Mike Williams and some dude named Reggie Bush were his hosts at USC.
But several friends, including then-Oregon wide receiver Demetrius Williams, played for the Ducks and it really came down to that.
“It was just a comfort level for me,” Colvin said. “I had never seen a game at Autzen Stadium, but man, there’s nothing like it.”
When he picked up the Oregon hat instead of the USC or Michigan hat, the roar that came out of the Duck football offices sounded similar to a full crowd at Autzen.
It was that big of a pick up for the Ducks.
“Signing Colvin was very important for Oregon for on and off the field reasons,” said AJ Jacobson, the editor of DuckSportsAuthority.com, the Rivals.com Duck affiliate. “It was their first major head-to-head recruiting victory over USC, and at the same time, reinforced Oregon’s recruiting inroads into California’s top high school programs such as De La Salle.”
But while the Ducks were making strides in recruiting, Colvin had a hard time making his own stride in Eugene.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound wide out had a hard time living up to other people’s expectations. In his first three seasons as a Duck, Colvin had just a total of 54 receptions and five touchdowns in 24 games.
But some coaching upheaval didn’t help him either.
In Colvin’s four seasons, the Ducks went through three offensive coordinators. It wasn’t until Head Coach Mike Bellotti found Chip Kelly in New Hampshire in his senior season that Colvin finally started to find his way as a player.
“One of the first things Chip said to us was that we were going to punch people in the mouth, no matter who it was,” Colvin said. “His tenacity rubbed off on us.”
It showed as the Ducks got off to a hot start, including a huge 39-7 win in the Big House of Michigan. Oregon was 4-1 and ranked No. 9 in the country. Colvin had 20 catches for 248 yards and two touchdowns. He was poised to have a banner season along with the team.
Everything was set up for the team to make a run to the Rose Bowl and perhaps more. The Ducks defeated Washington State 53-7 to go 5-1, but it came at a costly price. Colvin broke his ankle on a bubble screen where a defender rolled over on it.
His season and college career were over.
Colvin wasn’t the only Duck to go down that season. Quarterback Dennis Dixon and running back Jeremiah Johnson both went out with a knee injuries that derailed Oregon’s national championship possibilities.
“It was devastating,” Colvin said. “Not only for me, but to see so many guys go down. It was our senior year and we were really clicking as a group.”
Colvin’s broken ankle was a devastating one. The trainers at Oregon told him it would take eight to 10 months to recover.
“I was like, ‘What?’,” Colvin said. “The (NFL) combine was just four to five months away. I had to recover quickly.”
Colvin did all he could to recover. He even went to a foot specialist in Florida as well as recovering with the training staff at Oregon. When he worked out for the San Francisco 49ers, he still had stitches in his foot.
“They gave me a two-year contract and said they would give me a shot if I recovered,” Colvin said. “But I just didn’t have that same Cam Colvin explosiveness and it’s a business.”
After his release, Colvin took some time off for himself.
“I had to get my body healthy and in the meantime,” he said. “I was able to start my business, Cam Colvin Inc.”
The business (camcolvinuniverse.net) is a marketing venture, and Colvin has struck deals with such companies as Marvel Comics and Blue Star Jets.
But that was in 2009 and, while the business is thriving, Colvin’s body is healthy. Thus, he’s trying to do what he does best: play football.
Colvin is currently a wide receiver for the Locomotives. After playing two games, his numbers may not show it, but he is now able to do the things he is used to doing on the gridiron.
“We’re pretty much a running team because we have some outstanding backs,” he said. “There is a lot of NFL talent on this team We also have an amazing coaching staff with Jim Fassel (former New York Giants coach) and receivers coach Tim Rattay (former 49ers quarterback).”
Colvin’s agent has told him that several teams have been looking at him and, if he is able to stay healthy after the UFL’s six-game season, he will get another shot somewhere.
“Right now I’m taking everything day to day and just the cards fall where they may,” he said.
And he’s waiting to see where the track leads him next.
— Don Smalley for EDN