Former LSU recruit beats the odds to go pro
NEW ORLEANS - When one thinks of LSU's recent pedigree for producing elite defensive backs, players like Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne come to mind.
But there is another cornerback who might have heard his name called on draft day, but never played a down for the Tigers.
Delvin Breaux has travelled a long road to playing with the Arena Football League's New Orleans Voodoo this season. He practices at Tad Gormley Stadium, the very same field on which his life nearly ended.
"I was supposed to be dead. Immediate impact, I was supposed to be dead, man," Breaux said. "Every day at practice, I go stand right there in the spot I broke my neck."
In a prep game against Jesuit in 2006, Breaux lowered his head for a big hit on a kickoff. The hard tackle left the McDonogh 35 senior and LSU commitment with three broken vertebrae in his neck.
Breaux walked off the field, but it took him about six years to suit up again.
"I haven't gotten the chance to even step on the field at LSU. I haven't even gotten the chance to dress out. I never even got a chance to wear a helmet," said Breaux.
He worked out on his own in Baton Rouge, and became a dominant intramural flag football player. Eventually he was offered the opportunity to play for the semi-pro Louisiana Bayou Vipers.
"That might be a good starting point to get me back on my journey," said Breaux. "I didn't have film. Semi-pro film, that was too easy."
All Breaux had was video shot by his girlfriend, and the lack of game tape led to a tryout with the New Orleans Saints falling through.
"In my opinion, he has NFL talent. There's no question about the talent, the size, his measurables," said Voodoo head coach Pat O'Hara.
Breaux ran the 40-yard dash in under 4.40 seconds at an open Voodoo tryout, and caught on there.
"All he's done for 6 years is train. And with the natural, God-given ability he has, and the work ethic, as long as people can look past the neck, tremendous talent," said O'Hara.
Breaux played in three games for the Voodoo before landing on injured reserve, but his journey which began, ended, and began again at Tad Gormley hasn't come full circle yet.
"I can't go back out there playing scared. I can't go back out there worrying about my neck because, if I do that, then I'm not being myself. I'm not being the best player I can be," said Breaux.
Breaux reported to Canada this week for training camp with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL.
"I worked for everything I've earned up to this point," said Breaux. "You just got to push through, and you never know what's going to be at the other end of the tunnel."