With an earthquake having devastated his homeland of Haiti, one could forgive University of Massachusetts offensive tackle Vladimir Ducasse for being distracted.
After all, the friends and family he left behind on the island nation are dealing with death and destruction all around them.
Instead of allowing the situation to drag him down, however, Ducasse is using the football field as an escape and focusing on how he can get himself drafted, secure a bright financial future and then help out his struggling countrymen.
“I don’t even think about it any more. I’m just really looking to move on forward and make something positive,” said Ducasse.
“Here at the Senior Bowl, at the combine. If everything works out well, I’ll be able to do something. But right now, I can’t do nothing about it.”
Ducasse said he was having fun at the Senior Bowl meeting his new teammates and coaches, and that he was really focused on performing.
“When I’m on the field, I’m just focused on what’s on the field. That’s it,” he said.
And on the field, the former Minuteman is getting the job done. It is rare that a player from UMass. even gets considered for the NFL draft (not a single player from the school has been drafted in the last decade), but Ducasse has a chance to earn a high draft spot if he keeps up his strong play.
Jets general manager Mike Tannebaum, a fellow UMass alumnus, spoke glowingly of Ducasse in a Sirrius radio interview with Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan.
“He’s going to have a great career. I know he’s had to overcome a lot to get to where he is,” Tannenbaum said.
“I’m glad he’s down here. He’ll do well. A good offseason program will help him with the strength. There’s no reason why he can’t play in the league a long time.”
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock also considers Ducasse one of the draft’s top offensive tackle prospects, and has him ranked in his top five at the position.
— Jason Feller