That Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the 23rd overall pick of the NFL Draft passed as nearly an afterthought Thursday night. With Laremy Tunsil divebombing through the round before eventually ending up with the Miami Dolphins, and with videos and supposed text conversations leaking in tandem, why should anyone pay attention to Treadwell's quiet evening?
Treadwell, after all, doesn't carry a noisy media train with him in tow. Treadwell hasn't been photographed or filmed smoking marijuana; he hasn't been arrested for possession of a controlled substance; he hasn't cannon-balled out of an Atlanta hotel window; he hasn't physically defended his mother against an abusive stepfather; and he hasn't had to answer NCAA questions about a loner car, impermissible benefits, or sports agents.
In 2014, Treadwell suffered a gruesome injury after being tackled from behind in a game against Auburn. He snapped his left fibula and dislocated the ankle. It's a beautiful wonder that he was ever able to play football again, much more that he's an NFL first rounder. Coming back from the injury was as much if not moreso a mental challenge than a physical one, he says.
I was more mentally challenged than physically. I was stronger, I was faster, I was quicker but I couldn't allow myself to play the way I wanted because I didn't get hit in the spring of the last season so my first contact was in the game. Thinking back to the injury and going back and getting hit, it was definitely mental and the game is mostly mental ... It was just an overall battle for me the whole season and I got better week after week. By Week 5 I took that leap and trusted myself and trusted my body to get hit and take those licks.
Treadwell's daughter Madison accompanied her father on the most important night of his professional life. She, not her father, was interviewed by Deion Sanders.
It's easy to gloss over Laquon's big night. It's easy to focus on the scandal of Laremy Tunsil's privacy invasion. It's easy to feel somewhat surprised -- but in a good way -- that Robert Nkemdiche went off the board to the Arizona Cardinals with the 29th pick.
But never mind all that. In his third and final season with Ole Miss, Treadwell amassed 1,153 receiving yards on 82 catches. He hauled in 11 touchdown receptions, one more than his previous two seasons combined. For good measure, he completed all three of his passing attempts for 134 total yards and a touchdown. His career passing efficiency rating is a cool 259.3, according to Sports-Reference.
He's also a monster when it comes to blocking defenders, which he says is a layover from his time playing defense as a prep player.
Playing defense, playing safety and defensive end, playing all over the field as a kid. I played so many different positions in high school so when I moved to receiver I just kind of naturally played with an aggressive edge -- and willing to block and get physical with guys. It's just really natural to me.
"It's just really natural to me."
And now, he'll be catching passes and slamming opponents on Sundays for the division rivals of his hometown Chicago Bears.