Many NFL prospects are struggling with the rules and guidelines they must follow during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s especially the case for players without big, well-known names who have missed out on pro days and other scouting opportunities.
But you definitely won’t see former Towson running back and special teams player Yeedee Thaenrat complaining.
“Nothing that I face in this time of my life right now will be as hard as what I went through when I was younger,” Thaenrat said on Glenn Clark Radio April 14.
That’s because when Thaenrat was younger, he was separated from his parents during the Second Liberian Civil War (1999-2003) and moved with other family members to the states through a Catholic Charities USA refugee program. His father went to Thailand, and Thaenrat has been unsure of his mother’s whereabouts since their split.
After a year in refugee camps, Thaenrat and his siblings settled in San Antonio and started their life in America.
“I didn’t speak English that well so I had to take ESOL, English learning classes, and was bullied throughout school, but sports was a way for me to interact and make friends, and ever since I discovered that I could play sports, I just ran with that,” Thaenrat said.
Thaenrat has also faced plenty of challenges on the football field itself. He suffered an ankle injury during his senior year of high school, causing him to lose many of his college offers. Thaenrat was able to secure a scholarship at FCS Tennessee Tech, where he had 1,418 all-purpose yards (1,108 rushing and 304 receiving) and eight touchdowns in two seasons before transferring to Towson for his final two years.
Thaenrat rushed for 996 yards and 19 touchdowns as a Tiger from 2018-2019. In 2018, he earned third-team All-CAA honors as a special teams player, and in 2019, he earned second-team All-CAA honors as a running back and first-team honors for special teams. He was a gunner on Towson’s coverage units.
Still, even with those numbers, Thaenrat faces the extra troubles that come with playing for uncommon NFL alma maters like Tennessee Tech and Towson.
“It’s already hard coming from a small school, trying to sell yourself, [separate] from guys that are at a bigger program,” Thaenrat said. “Us not having pro day was really a [big] downfall for us, because we can’t really showcase our talents in front of them. A lot of NFL teams go off that.”
“I’ve just been taking it one day at a time and I’m hoping my film is enough. … They’ll want a guy like me on their team, and what they see on film separates me from other prospects,” he added.
But by now Thaenrat has faced and conquered more challenges in life than he can count, and without a pro day at Towson, he continues to do his best to find his opportunity to become a pro.
“These times, I could say, really test people,” Thaenrat said. “It’s so easy to be like ‘I don’t want to work out.’ It’s so easy to fall in with all the stuff that’s going on and to stop your daily routine because now you’ve got all this free time and you can’t go outside, or you don’t have access to the gym and you don’t know what you want to do. … I’m in a routine, I’m on a roll, I’ve been doing this my whole life, so why stop now? I’m just doing what I have to do to stay in shape just in case I get the opportunity.”
For someone who has been through so much adversity, football has become one of the things in Thaenrat’s life that has kept him constantly driving toward success. First, it was becoming the first in his family to graduate from college — and now, it’s having a chance at making it to the NFL.
“I feel like if I get in camp, my motivation, my work ethic … will push me through it,” Thaenrat said, “and I think teams would love to have a guy like me, and I’d be honored to play on any NFL team.”
For more from Thaenrat, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: ENP Photography