Port St. Joe, FL---From a small Panhandle town, to the Big Apple and the National Football League....with a three year stopover in Louisville!
It's quite a ride for Calvin Pryor who Thursday night will be in New York for the NFL draft. And it's safe to say, Calvin will be taking a big chunk of St. Joe with him to NYC and whatever NFL franchise that takes him!
Port St. Joe, Florida has a population just over 3400. You wouldn't call this a hotbed for pro athletes, but NFL Draft prospect Calvin Pryor calls this home.
"Port St Joe is my brand." Calvin says. "This is who I am. This is the place that made me who I am today. These people in this community believed in me before I even believed in myself. So I make sure that I always have to do the right thing so that whenever people think of Port St. Joe, they think of positive things."
A three sport star, Pryor was always playing and always had someone to turn to. His coaches. T.C. Brewer on the diamond, Derek Kurnitsky on the hardwood, and Vern Barth on the gridiron.
"They just molded me into being a man," says Pryor, of his high school coaches. "you know making sure I did all the right things. Just making sure I always put that hard work and dedication into my craft. They made sure school came first. And that was the most important thing for those guys, making sure I get an education."
Which led to his next chapter. A three year starter at Louisville.
"Going to college, I just had a blast. I enjoyed playing for coach Charlie Strong and his staff. They gave me the opportunity to be great and that's all I wanted."
Now all Pryor wants is to prove himself to the NFL.
"I have the confidence in my ability. I definitely feel like I'm the best safety in this year's draft. And I definitely feel like whatever team picks me up, I'm gonna have an impact right away."
Calvin's come a long way since playing here in front of the Shark faithful. Soon, packed NFL stadiums will cheer his name, as millions from all across the country will watch.
"I really never envisioned playing in the NFL, but to have the opportunity, and then to actually make it happen, it's going to be a great feeling. And I just can't wait for that to happen. When I walk into that stadium man, walk into an NFL locker room and run into that tunnel."
While you can count the hours until Pryor's dream comes true, that dream won't end, but instead live on in every single Port St. Joe player hoping one day they can be just like their hero. Be just like Calvin.
"It's definitely a great thing to have younger guys look up to you. When you're the face of a program, it really hits home. It's more than just going out and practicing football. You have to dedicate yourself each and every day if you want to achieve things like this. So you have to make sure you give it your all, do the right things, get your school work. I know I'm a role model to some of these kids. I just want to make sure I lead them in the right direction."
Thursday night at a place called the "Haughty Heron", the folks of Port St. Joe will gather to watch the draft, to see Calvin walk on that stage, we'll be there for that too.