By Kristen Griffith, The Whetstone
A Wesley Wolverine has finally made the NFL cut.
Joe Callahan, 23, a 6-foot-1, 216-pound quarterback who graduated this year from Wesley, made the Green Bay Packers roster.
“Callahan was probably the best player Wesley has ever seen,” said Mike Drass, head football coach and athletic director.
“He’s a student of the game,” he said. “He throws the ball the way you’d see players throw it on Sundays.”
Callahan was officially added to the Green Bay Packers 53-man roster Sept. 3. As a Wolverine and 2016 graduate, Callahan held several records and won this year’s Gagliardi Trophy, the Division III Heisman trophy, for thriving in athletics, community service and academics last year.
“A lot of people don’t realize that he was also an Academic All-American too,” Drass said.
Drass said the Packers became interested in Callahan after his junior year.
“That [scout] looks like a genius right now,” he said.
Callahan threw for 499 yards and three touchdowns with zero turnovers in his pre-season NFL debut.
After his performance, Callahan clinched a spot as a backup quarterback behind Brett Hundley and Aaron Rodgers.
“I think it’s pretty cool that he drew all this attention to the school,” junior Cody Simet said.
Although Callahan was the first D-3 quarterback to throw more than 5,000 yards in a single season, Drass said he didn’t always show NFL potential.
“We didn’t look at his high school film and say ‘he can be an NFL player,’” he said.
But Drass said he knew Callahan was special after throwing 500 yards in his first game.
Students are just as excited as the Wolverine coaching staff.
“I think it’s amazing that someone from college can go straight to the NFL because that’s like a one in a million chance,” sophomore Alexis Bynum said.
Freshman Justin Inman said Wesley’s football team can create NFL opportunities like it did for Callahan.
“The way that [the offense] runs their spread is a good layout,” he said. “With just a little potential, someone can take it far.”
He said it’s possible for Wesley to produce even more professional athletes.
“Everyone around here is pretty much focused on what they want to do,” he said. “It’s all about what you make it.”
Past players like Bryan Robinson in 2008 and Larry Beavers in 2009 also had NFL opportunities, but neither of them made the final roster like Callahan.
“I think it’s pretty cool to see how far you can go even though we’re a D-3 school,” said sophomore Taijah Lincoln.
She said that after talking to the football players who live on her floor, she can tell they have potential to go far.
“If they keep it together they can go as far as they want,” she said.
Senior Robert Wiggs said he noticed Callahan’s NFL potential.
“I got a chance to throw with 2013 Heisman trophy runner-up Everett Golsen, and after working out with him and then playing with Joe, I knew he had the talent to play at the next level,” he said.
Wiggs said he misses Callahan’s personality.
“He is probably the funniest person I know,” he said. “I also miss his knowledge of the game. He made football a lot easier on game day.”