September 20, 2010 17 Comments
Robert Frost once wrote “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Well the same can be said for Miami Dolphins Linebacker Cameron Wake. Cameron Wake’s route to the NFL is as unconventional as it gets, but now that he has arrived he is taking the league by storm.
Unlike many NFLers, from a young age Cameron Wake did not dream of being a football star, rather he had high hopes of being a basketball player. However, he was unable to crack the starting roster in high school that consisted of current NBA player Keith Bogans. Wake reluctantly switched to football despite never having played, and as a senior he was named the Washington Post defensive player of the year.
Wake played well enough to earn a spot on the Penn State Nittany Lion’s roster as a true freshman in 2000. Blessed with great athletic ability, Wake was able to be a solid player at Penn State despite his limitations caused by his lack of football background. He finished his college career with 118 solo tackles, 8.5 sacks, and an astounding 7 blocked kicks.
Even though Wake had decent numbers and showed incredible athletic ability he was not taken in the 2005 NFL draft. This had much to do with the fact that Cameron was your typical ‘tweener’ player physically. Wake left college just over 230 pounds and at 6”3 he was too big to be a linebacker and too small to play defensive end. It should be of note that at Penn State’s pro day Cameron Wake ran a 4.55 in the 40 yard dash and sports a 45.5” vertical.
He was signed by the New York Giants as a free agent but was subsequently released before training camp even began. No one else bothered to give Wake a chance and for two years he was out of football. He worked as a mortgage advisor as well as a personal trainer, hoping to stay in shape just in case a call came.
In 2007 opportunity came knocking as the Canadian Football League’s B.C. Lions offered Cameron Wake a tryout. However, there was a miscommunication and Cameron showed up at the wrong facility. In spite of this, after watching some of Wake’s game film from Penn State, the B.C. Lions decided to extend him an invitation to training camp. The opportunity was all that Cameron Wake needed.
Wake flourished as a rookie in a league that has produced the likes of Warren Moon and Jeff Garcia. He moved from linebacker to defensive end and in his first year Wake finished the season with 16 sacks and 72 tackles. With high expectations going into his second season Wake did not experience the dreaded sophomore slump as he continued his dominance, and completed the season with a league high 23 sacks as well as taking home defensive player of the year honours. During his time in B.C., Wake was constantly faced with double and triple teams by opposing teams but managed to fight his way through them week after week. Moreover, in the CFL, a league designed for passing, defenders are forced to line up 1 yard off the ball creating a considerable advantage for offensive lineman.
As a B.C. Lion season ticket holder myself I was able to see the emergence of Cameron Wake on a game-to-game basis, and let me tell you that he is one of, if not the most exciting defensive player to come to the CFL. It wasn’t just the sacks; it was the distress that he caused opposing teams’ quarterbacks, offensive lines, coaches, and game plans. Someone as electrifying as Wake does not come around every day and the fact that he was playing in the CFL did not take away from the undeniable evidence that this was a star in the making.
His monster season in the CFL drew the interest of many NFL teams (17 to be exact), where he eventually landed in Miami signing a four-year deal worth up to $5 million, with around $1 million of that guaranteed.
With the move to the NFL came a move in positions once again for Cameron Wake as he had to make the transition back to outside linebacker. Playing behind Joey Porter, Wake was able to be slowly inserted into the Dolphins rotation and get re-accustomed with the American game. In limited playing time last year Cameron Wake confirmed what he accomplished in the CFL was no fluke. He ended the season with 5.5 sacks, 23 total tackles with 1 forced fumble.
Now, with the departure of Joey Porter, Wake has assumed the starting outside linebacker role in the Dolphins line-up and through 2 games this year he has not disappointed. He has already accumulated 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble, showing that he is ready to take the next step.
Cameron Wake’s road to the NFL is certainly one that has been traveled by few others, and now that he has made it he is finally turning heads around NFL circles and proving one game at a time that he truly does belong.
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