Underwood Gets Himself Back On Track

Brandon Underwood’s college career didn’t go exactly as planned, but he takes responsibility for that and plans to make up for it now that he’s got his shot in the NFL. - More Packers 2009 Draft Page


Brandon Underwood's college career didn't go exactly as planned, but he takes responsibility for that and plans to make up for it now that he's got his shot in the NFL.

The Packers chose Underwood, a cornerback out of Cincinnati, with their second sixth-round pick on Sunday, the 187th selection overall.

Originally an Ohio State recruit, Underwood didn't make the grade academically and lost his scholarship after a redshirt year and two seasons of minimal playing time. After sitting out the 2007 season as a transfer, he returned to the field last year for Cincinnati and re-establishing his reputation as a talented player with the potential to play at the next level.

"Didn't do it academically, and that was pretty much my downfall up there," Underwood said of the fallout at Ohio State. "I would have loved to have stayed up there, but when you sign a scholarship, you're a student-athlete and I was just being an athlete.

"It helped me be accountable for my actions, and taught me to humble myself in all situations."

Underwood, listed at 6-foot-1, 198 pounds, was a true team player for the Bearcats in 2008, playing both his natural position of cornerback and filling in at safety when injuries dictated the need. He earned first-team All-Big East honors at safety with four interceptions, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries to go along with 66 tackles. He was also named Cincinnati's special teams player of the year.

His versatility should help him find playing time in the pros, but the Packers plan to try him at cornerback first, where his size, speed and long arms are perhaps most useful.

"He's a big kid, he's got length, he's got some speed, and we're always looking for length when going up against big receivers," said Shaun Herock, the Packers assistant director of college scouting. "With that length and that speed, you always want to try a guy outside first because that's a harder thing to find.

"He can get his arms stretched out and ride guys and run with them down the field."

Underwood, who says his best 40-yard dash time was an impressive 4.36 seconds, will be thrown into the group of young cornerbacks battling to become the eventual replacements for veteran starters Charles Woodson and Al Harris. That group includes Tramon Williams, Will Blackmon, Jarrett Bush and a second-round draft pick from last year, Pat Lee.

He'll start behind the curve in the experience department in that competition for sure, but he's not going to let anyone count him out.

"I have a great chance," he said. "I'm a hard worker, I'm a smart player, and I want it. I'm hungry."

It may have taken a while in college, but he showed he had that hunger by resurrecting what might have been a lost career. He paid most of his own way through school in Cincinnati, taking out the appropriate loans, and he's now 24 hours short of his criminal justice degree.

"I think sometimes when things come to light like that, it gives you a little different view of it," Herock said. "I think it opened his eyes a little bit and he knew what he needed to do.

"Ohio State loved the kid. They thought he was one of the most talented athletes who's been through that program, and that's an eye opening thing for Ohio State to say that because there's some great athletes coming out of there."

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