As the popularity of the National Football League (NFL) continues to dominate the American sports landscape, the NFL Draft has become one of the most popular sporting events of the year. It is a time of optimism for fans of all teams as they see young talent added to their roster. And, it’s especially exciting for the players who have their dreams of getting drafted by an NFL team realized.
This year, there were several player connections to South Baltimore and the city and area as a whole.
Kyle Fuller, Mount Saint Joseph
It would be hard to argue against the Fuller family as the most athletic family in the history of Baltimore. The oldest brother, Vincent Fuller, completed a seven-year NFL career, Corey Fuller is a current player with the Detroit Lions organization, and the youngest brother, Kendall Fuller, now an all-conference freshman at Virginia Tech, was one of the most sought after high school recruits in the nation in the class of 2013.
Now, Kyle Fuller joins the NFL rankings having been drafted by the Chicago Bears with the 14th overall pick in the 2014 draft (he was the second cornerback (CB) selected overall.) Kyle played his high school ball at Southwest Baltimore’s Mount Saint Joseph, where he was a quarterback and defensive back. Kyle was an electric athlete with the Gaels and went on to star as a CB at Virginia Tech.
Mount Saint Joseph now has professional athletes in four sports as Mark Teixeira, Gavin Floyd and Steve Clevenger play in the MLB; Henry Simms in the NBA; Jalen Robinson in the MLS; and, Brendan Mundorf in the MLL.
Kiero Small, Cardinal Gibbons
Cardinal Gibbons, a Catholic school in Southwest Baltimore, closed in 2010, but their alumni are still putting the school on the map. Steve “Wojo” Wojciechowski, a ’94 graduate, was recently named the head men’s basketball coach at Marquette University, and Arkansas fullback and ’06 graduate Kiero Small was just drafted as the 227th overall pick by the Seattle Seahawks in the seventh round.
It was a long road to the NFL for Baltimore native Small. His journey included a stint at Valley Forge Military Academy, a hiatus to work for his family’s t-shirt shop, a two-year stop at Hartnell Junior College in California, and then two years at the University of Arkansas.
Terrance West, Northwestern
Terrance West’s long journey to the NFL has been well-documented. It included high school ball at Northwestern High School, which will soon be closing, and a year at Fork Union Military Academy before he earned a spot on the Towson University football team as a walk on. The rest is history as West, a west Baltimore native, became Towson’s all-time leading rusher, even setting a single season FCS record in 2013 with 2,509 rushing yards and 41 rushing touchdowns.
Many people hoped West would land with the Ravens, but the Cleveland Browns drafted him with the 94th overall pick in the third round.
Michael Campanaro, River Hill
When Howard County native Michael Campanaro takes the field for the Ravens this upcoming season it will actually not be the first time he plays at M&T Bank Stadium. His River Hill Hawks played in the state championship in his final three seasons at the home of the Ravens. The Hawks fell to Friendly, who was led by Browns star CB Joe Haden, the all-time leading passer in Maryland history as a QB at the time, in Campanaro’s ’06 sophomore season. Although the Hawks lost, many were left talking about how well young Campanaro played against a Friendly team that was nationally ranked.
That was the last time the Hawks would lose a game in Campanaro’s career as they would go on to win back-to-back 2A State Championships. Campanaro set many school career records including 6,112 yards of total offense, 536 points scored, and 14 interceptions. In his senior year, he finished with 228 points and 2,310 total yards. Campanaro and Dunbar’s Tavon Austin, now of the St. Louis Rams, were both in the class of 2009 taking the Baltimore area by storm. Both became very close friends saying that they were brothers separated at birth.
Campanaro was also the starting point guard on River Hill’s 3A State Championship basketball team in 2007.
Campanaro went on to have a record career at Wake Forest setting the all-time mark with 229 receptions and finessing 2,506 yards receiving.
The Ravens took Campanaro with the 218th overall pick in the seventh round. He is expected to compete for a spot on the team as a slot receiver, and has often been compared to the likes of Wes Welker of the Denver Broncos.