There were times when Rasul Douglas wanted to pack it in.
While playing football at Nassau Community College, Douglas struggled financially. After sleeping on the floor and not having enough money for food, Douglas thought about quitting football and heading back to East Orange, New Jersey.
“I mean, when you have to walk to McDonald’s in the snow and you order five things and you eat two of them at 12 o’clock and you save the other two dollar-menu things for later on in the day," Douglas said. "I think that was one of my craziest days.”
But Douglas didn't quit.
He performed well enough to get noticed by Division I schools and eventually went to West Virginia, where he led the nation in interceptions last season with eight.
For a kid who was unsure about where his next meal was going to come from to reach the NFL, Douglas' story is already one of triumph.
“I always think about [the hard times]," Douglas said. "Every time I eat, I always think I’m making up a meal I missed in junior college or something like that. I always make a funny joke, so I always think about it.”
Last year's 99th pick, Browns linebacker Joe Schobert, signed a four-year deal worth just under $3 million, with a signing bonus of just under $634,000. That kind of money will signal a huge life change from where Douglas was not very long ago.
But Douglas was really close to giving it all up.
He thought about leaving Nassau Community College, but his coach got him to stay. And Douglas credits his high school coach Marion Bell for getting him to go to junior college when he wasn't planning on it.
In high school, Douglas said he wasn't the best player on his high school team, but he's made it much further than many of his teammates.
"A lot of the guys went back to the streets," said Douglas, who grew up in East Orange with five siblings.
Douglas was on the Eagles' radar before the Senior Bowl in January, but it was that week in Mobile, Alabama, when he really caught their eyes.
The one thing Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas said stood out about Rasul Douglas was the young player's toughness, which likely grew out of difficult circumstances.
"Yeah, definitely, you see that as a player, and his resiliency — it's a great story — and you see that toughness shine through, just the way that he plays," Douglas said. "He's a tough-minded kid now."
The 21-year-old Douglas will come in with a real opportunity to play as a rookie with the Eagles, who don't have a ton of depth at cornerback.
Douglas made it to the NFL, but he's going to make sure he never forgets the tough times he went through.
“Definitely fuels me all the time," Douglas said. "Just thinking about what I went through – practicing on an empty stomach, going to school on an empty stomach and you can’t even focus. So that definitely just makes me want to play all out and hard all the time."