Entering the 2014 NFL Draft, General Manager Rick Spielman and Head Coach Mike Zimmer often spoke of trying to find quality football players, but also high character young men in the annual player selection meeting. It seems that sixth round selection (No. 182 overall) safety/cornerback Antone Exum fits the bill.
An All-ACC performer and Sports Illustrated Honorable Mention All-American in 2012, Exum would have undoubtedly been a higher selection in the draft had he not tore his ACL in January 2013. Exum played and started in only three games during the 2013 season, missing time due to injury. The Glen Allen, Va. native proved he can perform on a bigger stage capturing the Russell Athletic Bowl MVP award after intercepting a pass in the 13-10 win over Rutgers.
Along with his body of work on the field, Exum has an impressive resume off the field. A fan favorite at Virginia Tech, Exum graduated with a degree in finance and is completing coursework for a second degree in marketing.
One story from the aforementioned Russell Athletic Bowl seems to define Exum’s character. Exum and teammates received a gift card as a part of the care package for the bowl game. Instead of spending the gift card on himself, Exum decided to cheer up the holiday season for three youngsters he had spotted at the store, buying them a Playstation 3 console and a blackberry phone.
Exum, who excelled at multiple positions in the secondary while at Virginia Tech, will likely play safety for the Vikings and will have to prove himself on the field to gain a spot on the roster for 2014. Don’t be surprised, though, if Exum is just as eager to make a profound impact in the community, too.