His is a journey that few have taken, through the challenging academic hallways of Tulane University, grinding through a career-threatening knee injury, entering the professional world as a teacher first before Xavier Rush stepped into his dream: Playing in the NFL.
"I've talked about the NFL all the time, the game of football, I missed it when I wasn't playing and to be here, in this position, it's part of my dream," said Rush, a rookie wide receiver who is vying to make the Eagles' 53-man roster when it is pared down in September. He's here now, part of the 90-man team, and he's ready for the start of Training Camp practices on Monday at the NovaCare Complex.
How Rush got here is an example of a young man who didn't give up when he had plenty of opportunities, and other options, to do so. Highly sought after as a high schooler, Rush was wanted just as much for his brains as his football ability. Offers from Harvard and Cornell were considered before Rush accepted one from Tulane, where he majored in, and has since received his bachelor's degree in, neuroscience.
Rush had a good career at Tulane, marred by a torn ACL in his seventh game of his senior season that took him out of the NFL picture. Rush caught 99 passes and scored 12 touchdowns in the 45 games he played at Tulane, and his 6-3, 202-pound body had some scouts paying attention. But then there was the injury. Rush wasn't healthy enough to fully show his talents for teams ahead of the 2015 draft, so he spent the year rehabbing his injury and teaching at a prep school in Arkansas.