Trevor Reilly has his roots firmly planted in reality but that's not preventing him from reaching for the stars.
The edge rusher from Utah knows he has yet to accomplish anything in the NFL. Nevertheless, he's striving for production on par with a touted Green Bay Packers outside linebacker that plays the same position.
"It's interesting; obviously, I'm not as good as Clay Matthews," said Reilly, "but along those same lines, I want to be like him."
Reilly is on the right path, coming off the best season of his college carer as a senior, racking up 100 tackles, 16.5 for a loss, nine sacks and a forced fumble.
Over the course of his college career, Reilly has made 235 tackles, 37.5 for a loss, 20.5 sacks, two interceptions and eight forced fumbles.
From all appearances, Reilly is a draft prospect on the rise, ranked as the sixth outside linebacker in this year's draft class and projected to go as high as Day 2 of the upcoming NFL Draft, according to NFLDraftScout.com.
Arguably, the biggest thing Reilly must overcome is his age. At 26 years old, he has gone as far as shaving his beard to make him look younger. The reason for his relatively old draft status is one year spent doing construction and two years on a church mission before enrolling at Utah.
Whatever adversity Reilly has had to prevail over from a football standpoint, it pales in comparison to what he faces off the field.
"I have two daughters," said Reilly. "My youngest one, she battled cancer this summer. She's doing well now (after having a kidney tumor removed).
"The biggest thing about marriage for me is that I have a strong wife. If I had a wife who was weak, then it would be way more difficult than it is. But she's a beast and she's able to handle a lot of things I don't have a lot of time for, at this time of my life.
"I consider myself a good father and good husband, but she knows that I'm going to be away for five days at a time sometimes, and she doesn't complain. She just knows that's how it goes right now. I can't thank her enough for that."
Having lost his six-year-old brother when Reilly was 13, the Utah linebacker keeps a positive outlook, knowing from experience that things in life could always be worse.
With regular check-ups for his daughter every three to six months, Reilly keeps on top of her sitation as best a father can.
Reilly's own health issues seem minor when put in perspective and for the most part, they are.
After tearing his ACL in 2012, Reilly had a clean-up on his meniscus and scar tissue shortly before the Combine, preventing him from working out with the exception of the bench press (26 repetitions). He was, however, able to do straight-line running during his pro day at Utah, including running the 40-yard in 4.69 seconds per Gil Brandt of NFL.com.
The knee has not prevented Reilly from missing so much as a single game in college, and any concern would appear to be minimal.
"I want to show them that not only am I a smart player, I'm a good athlete," said Reilly. "With the knee injury I've had, I've had some good film, but that's going to be a question going forward, can he still move like he could before the knee injury? I want to prove that, going forward."
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email email@example.com.
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