Small Town Colorado Football Player Hits Big Time in NFL Playoffs
Many times in life, it's not where you start that counts, it's where you finish that really matters.
By now, everybody knows the feel-good story of undrafted Colorado running back Phillip Lindsay who starred for the Denver Broncos this past season. But, there is another Colorado running back who also wears #30 and has a great story to tell as well.
Austin Ekeler played high school football north of Greeley at Eaton High School, a school of about 500 students. While Division I college took a pass on the small-town boy, Ekeler made a name playing in the RMAC at Western Colorado University in Gunnison.
Ekeler holds nearly every career, season, and single game rushing record in Western State history. His senior year, he led the nation in average yards per game with 149. Ekeler was also a Harlon Hill Trophy finalist, which is the Division II version of the Heisman.
Despite a stellar collegiate career, Ekeler went undrafted by NFL teams but signed a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Chargers.
In two seasons with the Chargers, Ekeler has amassed over 1000 yards of offense while scoring 11 touchdowns. In 2017, he became the first Chargers undrafted rookie RB to post three touchdown catches in a season. This season, Ekeler saw significant playing time while Charger's starter Melvin Gordon was out with an injury. Ekeler rushed for over 500 yards, averaging more than 5 yards a carry.
The Chargers take on the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in the wildcard round of the NFL playoffs, and Ekeler may be watching from the sidelines. He's listed as questionable for the game with a groin injury.
I realize it may be difficult for fans in Broncos Country to root for division rivals, but since the Broncos season fizzled, I'm pulling for a deep playoff run by the Chargers, with hopes that this small-town eastern Colorado boy will get a chance to get on the field and make some big plays.