Dexter McDougle’s college career ended on the ground in Connecticut, writhing in pain as his shoulder throbbed, season-ending surgery and months of recovery before him. On Sept. 14, three games into his senior season, the cornerback jammed his shoulder into the ground while trying to make a tackle at Rentschler Field, where he had already changed the game by returning an interception for a touchdown, and never appeared in a Maryland football uniform again.
McDougle still hung around, attending meetings and practices and lending his years of wisdom to the inexperienced players tasked with replacing his production. At home games, he was often seen watching from the press box and marching around during stretching lines, slapping hands and offering words of last-minute encouragement. All the while he continued to rehabilitate, hoping his football career wasn’t quite over.
The biggest triumph yet came Friday evening, when McDougle posted a screenshot of an email inviting him to the NFL Scouting Combine. The event will take place from Feb. 22-25, with the defensive backs working out on the final day. It is unknown how much McDougle will be able to actually participate in workouts, though he could still interview and do everything else.
“My whole life I’ve played this game of football and always had big dreams and high expectations for myself,” he wrote in the caption. “I am proud to say I have been invited to the NFL Combine! After everything that I went through this year having a season ending injury after only 3 games I kept faith that everything would still work out. I’m so blessed and ready for this next chapter in my life!”
Five days ago, McDougle posted another picture on Instagram announcing that he performed his first workout since the injury. In three-plus games this season, at the time the only player to start every game in the Randy Edsall era, McDougle intercepted three passes, defended five and made 14 tackles.
Various websites project McDougle as either a late-round draft pick or a potential undrafted free agent. CBSSports.com graded him as the 279th best prospect in the upcoming draft class and the 35th best cornerback, while ESPN.com rated him 28th at the position and NFLDraftScout.com had him 35th.
Several other Terps posted their congratulations as well.
Dex got me too hype in here mann lmaoo lessgo
— Alex Twine (@TwineTime_35) January 25, 2014
So pumped for @Blasian_Kiddd! My man is headin to the NFL Combine! Ive never seen anyone work harder than he has to battle back like he has!
— Nathan Renfro (@TheNateFro) January 25, 2014
Proud of my bro @Blasian_Kiddd for earning that combine invite…it’s been amazing to see his growth since middle school
— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) January 25, 2014
Congrats to @Blasian_Kiddd for the NFL combine invite. Gotta see him on Sundays especially after all he went thru this yr.
— Tony Perry (@tlperry10) January 25, 2014