The road to the 2011 NFL Draft has been bumpy for Mark Herzlich but his back-story may be the best one of the week. In 2008, Herzlich was projected as a top-10 pick, but his career and life were suddenly put on hold as he was diagnosed with cancer. Doctors discovered a tumor in his left leg and he was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma. Though his chances for survival were high, his chances of ever playing football again were slim-to-none.
Herzlich sat out the 2009 season and underwent an intensive chemotherapy process to eradicate the cancer from his body. A 12-inch titanium rod was inserted in his leg to keep it stable, yet Herzlich kept fighting to get back on the field. Even as he prepared for the 2010 season, his final year at Boston College, Herzlich faced an uphill battle. A stress fracture in his foot kept him out of practice ahead of the season opener and a broken hand suffered in the fourth game of the year slowed his progress.
All he did was finish with 65 tackles and three interceptions in 2010 while fighting through the kind adversity most college football players never have to face. Herzlich was invited to the NFL Draft and made the trip to New York with the rest of the first round picks. It was a moment that seemed out of reach just two years ago.
If Herzlich's fight is any indication, he will succeed at the NFL level, no matter the odds.