Dominique Easley racked up 18.0 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks during his time in Gainesville.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Dominique Easley played defensive tackle at the University of Florida. Easley, who’s originally from Staten Island, NY, made himself eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft in November. He teamed up with FOX Sports to do a draft diary. He’ll be taking you through the process of the rehab — from his (knee) surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews to training and preparation for workouts for the draft. You can follow him (@MR_ChUcKiE_2) from now all the way up until draft day. (PART I, PART II, PART III, PART IV, PART V)
It is just about six months out from my ACL surgery. As far as my therapy goes, I have been rehabbing like crazy, sometimes three times a day. Overall, my body is feeling good. My muscle mass is up, my stamina is up. Some days feel better than others but I still feel like I’m getting closer to getting back to 100 percent. Right now I’m about an eight out of 10. I feel like I’m fine-tuning my training and rehab by focusing on my overall strength. I continue to do lateral movements. I’m learning to become more aware of my body during drills because I want to maximize my progress.
The past six months I have been fortunate to be able to focus on my recovery, but the time was coming for me to actually prove my performance instead of just talk about it. I scheduled my pro day to be about six months out from my surgery. I’ve been on an accelerated rehab protocol to make sure I can prove to organizations that I have what it takes before the draft.
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One thing that I find is that my unique path to the draft has allowed teams to get to know me more. I feel that I have been talking about my work ethic and my dedication a lot. I saw research that said the main factor in coming back from an ACL injury 100 percent in the NFL is experience. So I want organizations to know that though I have not played as long as some veteran NFL players, I am experienced in coming back from an ACL reconstruction. I don’t really like to talk that much, though. I’d rather show people who I am and what I can do. My pro day was a chance for me to do less talking and show not only what I can do but what kind of player and person I am.
A week before my pro day I stayed in Gainesville and did some more rehab with the physical therapist, who rehabbed me after my first ACL reconstruction. I was in a place I was familiar with. My boys were around and I was back training in the south end zone. It felt like old times.
As the days kept getting closer, I did start to have doubts. I am only human. I questioned if I should do the pro day at all. It was hard, both mentally and physically. I had to do a lot of reflecting in order to show up. I thought a lot about my son. Eventually, I just shut out all the doubts and I just went out on the field. I put on my headphones, danced a little and did what I do. As I was going through the drills my adrenaline was pumping. I felt great! It felt good to be on the field. It felt good to be doing the drills … I just felt good.
Next up is a lot of traveling. I have to visit a bunch of teams, and do my re-check with the NFL in Indianapolis and then more scheduled events. I’m looking forward to seeing my son for one day before the re-check to relax and chill.
But until the draft, it’ll just be FaceTime from airport terminals and hotel rooms.