IRVING, Texas — Devin Street has only officially been an NFL player for just over a week now, but the fifth-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in the 2014 NFL Draft already sounds like someone who has it all figured out.
That’s because Street, a former receiver at Pitt who went on a mission to Haiti with a number of his college teammates in spring 2013, wants to not only make an impact between the lines for America’s Team, but he also wants to follow in the footsteps of former Cowboy DeMarcus Ware and current standout tight end Jason Witten, two guys who known as much for their on-field accomplishments as the countless lives they have impacted off the field.
"I’m not playing for myself, not at all. Of course, I want to be great and I want to be the best I can be, but I always wanted to bring change as a young kid. I always wanted to affect people in a positive light, and I feel like as a professional football player, you’re under a microscope and you’re such a big figure in society and the public, you can really affect a lot of people," Street said during Dallas’ recent rookie minicamp.
He added: "I see it around here, what DeMarcus Ware has done and Jason Witten, guys like that, that’s what I want to be. I want to be like those guys, great role models to young kids and everyone."
That sense of community and strong desire to make a positive impact on the world comes from his strong upbringing in his hometown of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a place where Street also developed the strong work ethic and sheer determination that has come to define him.
"I think it was ingrained in me at an early age. I always cared about others, but definitely from my parents too. I grew up in a strict household, which makes everything," he said. (My parents told me to) be a man of character, be a man of faith and that was definitely my parents. I was always pushed to be the best I could be but at the same time always affect others and put others first. That’s how I was brought up."
Of course, Street is someone who has an immense passion for football and continuing his progression on the field as a rookie is his utmost priority, but the 23-year-old pass catcher most definitely has a strong sense of perspective and realizes just how fortunate he is to be in his current position, even if he is again at the bottom of the totem pole as a rookie.
"We’re blessed to be in this position. I forget the exact quote but it’s not a right to be here. It’s a privilege to be here. That’s how I kind of take it every day, just being humble, being hungry," he said. "(I know) it can be taken away from you at any second. I just wake up every day and thank God that I’m in this position. I just want to make the most of it."
And even though he grew up in the heart of Eagles country with his hometown being less than two hours from Philadelphia, he is still very well acquainted with how many great receivers have worn the iconic star for the Cowboys, and it’s a tradition he’s honored to now be a part of.
"It’s just like Pitt. I love it, the tradition. The standards are set high. That’s when you’ve got to work. When you have all those different outside motivations, it makes you work that much harder," Street said.
"That’s why I love this organization. It’s the Dallas Cowboys. This is the cream of the crop. It’s a brand and you have to carry yourself as a Dallas Cowboy. You’re definitely under a microscope. We’re known all around the world. You definitely have to just be a team guy."
Despite lasting until the fifth round, Street was adamant that he was not a fifth-round talent. And just by talking to his talented young receiver for a few minutes, it’s clear that there is plenty to like about this native of the Keystone State, both on and off the field.
Street will wear No. 15 in Dallas, a number that might not have much meaning for some, but he’s got a pretty interesting take on the digits he will don as a rookie and beyond in Big D.
"Yeah, don’t really worry about it, but I wore six in high school. I’ve always liked six and one plus five is six," he said. "In the game of football, scoring touchdowns is a big thing, so touchdown’s worth six points. That’s why I kind of wear it."
And while Street might not technically be a high-round pick, something which carries with it immense expectations from the get go, he is well aware of what it means to be a draft pick and a receiver drafted by Dallas at that.
But the good news is that he welcomes all those lofty expectations and in fact embraces them as being part of his next stage as a football player, making the rather large jump from the college game to the NFL.
"I love it. It’s a workmanlike mentality, just how Pitt was with Coach Crist. So definitely want to transition over quick but definitely a lot of work, a lot of high expectations, which I love because that’s the only way teams are really going to be great, is with high expectations, always progressing and getting pushed to your maximum, to be the best you can be," Street said.
Welcome to Dallas, Devin. You’re going to fit in just fine here.