Rasul Douglas brings a different kind of hunger to Eagles
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The cliche of the entitled athlete does not apply to Eagles rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas.
The playmaking third-round pick had some tough times in North Jersey before finding success on the football field in West Virginia.
Douglas' NFL journey started in junior college where the East Orange native struggled so much financially that he often arrived at practice lacking focus because he was so hungry without money to buy food.
“(It) definitely fuels me all the time," Douglas said at his introductory press conference when discussing his difficult background. "Just thinking about what I went through – practicing on an empty stomach, going to school on an empty stomach and you can’t even focus.
“I mean, when you have to walk to McDonald’s in the snow and you order five things and you eat two of them at 12 o’clock and you save the other two dollar-menu things for later on in the day. I think that was one of my craziest days."
Through it all Douglas never quit and improved enough to get the decision makers from some big-time Division I programs to take notice. He ultimately landed at WVU, where an eight-interception season was good enough to lead the nation and capture the attention of NFL scouts.
By last Friday night, Douglas was the 99th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and on his way to Philadelphia, a team in desperate need of a talent upgrade at the cornerback position.
A day later Butler was at the NovaCare Complex where the spread is a little better than the offerings from the dollar menu at the local Mickey D's.
“I always think about (the difficult times)," Douglas said. "Every time I eat, I always think I’m making up a meal I missed in junior college or something like that."
When he ultimately signs Douglas will be getting significant money for any 21-year-old so the tough times are over for now but he will never forget the journey that got him to South Philadelphia.
"A lot of the guys went back to the streets," Douglas said when talking about his high school teammates in East Orange.
Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas believes toughness and resiliency are two of the traits that will give the young cornerback an excellent opportunity to contribute on Jim Schwartz's defense early on.
"You see that (toughness) as a player, and his resiliency. It's a great story and you see that toughness shine through, just the way that he plays," Douglas said. "He's a tough-minded kid."
The Eagles also drafted the Sidney Jones at corner in the second round but a torn Achilles at his pro day on March 11 will have the talented Washington product likely rehabbing into the season and potentially shut down for the entire campaign.
That means it's Douglas who will be asked to play right away and contribute to a depth chart headlined by free-agent signee Patrick Robinson as well as second-year man Jalen Mills.
And Rasul is hungry to do exactly that.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen