Riverview product Addae looking to land with Chargers
Jahleel Addae practices during a recent San Diego Chargers minicamp session. PHOTO PROVIDED.
BY NICK WILLIAMS Tribune staff
Published: June 23, 2013
Updated: June 23, 2013 at 08:42 AM
TAMPA - Former Riverview High running back Jahleel Addae knows he's going to have to prove himself to make it in the NFL.
Signed in April as an undrafted free agent by the San Diego Chargers, the ex-Central Michigan University safety will have to stand out during training camp and preseason games. He'll have to fight for a role on special teams, where most players make their case to earn a spot on the final 53-man roster. He'll also have to prove to Chargers coaches he can handle a position he learned his sophomore year in college.
But if life has taught him anything, Addae, who graduated from Riverview in 2008 as one of the highest-rated running backs in the state, everything happens for a reason.
"I think God has a plan," he said. "I'm prepared to do whatever to be on that field. This is an opportunity for me to showcase my talents."
At Riverview, Addae was an all-state running back who recorded three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. In his senior season, he rushed for 1,426 yards and 15 touchdowns. When he arrived at CMU, however, he was labeled as a utility player and saw time primarily on special teams.
Then one day .
"Coach came into the receivers meeting and said, 'We need you at safety,'" Addae said.
Until then, Addae had never played a defensive snap in his life. But he mastered his coverage skills and learned to read an offense. He also consulted his older brother, Jahmile, who played the position at West Virginia and in the NFL.
The transition to defense was a blessing in disguise.
Addae became a three-time All-Mid-American Conference safety who, in his final season, tied for a conference-best four interceptions along with 89 tackles and two sacks. Addae, a 2012 team co-captain, completed his career at CMU with 302 tackles and eight interceptions.
Gaither High coach Jason Stokes was the defensive coordinator at Riverview during Addae's four years with the Sharks. Stokes, who tried to lure Addae to defense, said the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder had a knack for the ball.
"Uncanny vision and anticipation," Stokes said. "He would (play safety) in practice on the scout team sometimes. He was always a natural ball hawk and great tackler."
The Raiders, Texans, Rams, Falcons and hometown Bucs showed interest in signing Addae. Though he pictured himself reaching the NFL as a running back, or perhaps a slot receiver, the end result is all he ever wanted - an opportunity in the NFL.