When Cole Wick initially told his new Lions teammates that he played his college football at the University of Incarnate Word, he admits there were a few blank stares coming back at him.
"It's in San Antonio, Texas," Wick said of what he usually has to say next.
It just goes to show the NFL will find talent no matter where it resides.
Incarnate Word is off the radar a bit, so it's no surprise a lot of Wick's pre-draft profiles simply listed his name, height, position and stats with no other breakdown of his on-field play. Wick went undrafted, but quickly signed with the Lions as a free agent.
Injuries to both Brandon Pettigrew and Eric Ebron this summer provided Wick (6-6, 255) with a unique opportunity to get quality reps, including some with the first team. He took advantage of it as both coaches and media members took notice of his play.
"I've really never been overhyped before," Wick recently said at a football camp for Detroit PAL hosted by Lions rookies. "I've never had a chance to be hyped up about anything. You know, it's cool. I'm glad that I've had the opportunity to do the things I've done."
The real work begins in training camp, however. Having a great spring or summer doesn't always translate to training camp, when the pads come on and the competition is stiffer.
"You can't be fooled by what you see out here in shorts," Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said early on in the offseason program. "There's been several examples of that, guys that may not look as good in shorts, but look outstanding with pads on. Both ways, you know."
Wick is spending the next month back in San Antonio at Incarnate Word working out and preparing for the start of training camp.
His play in OTAs and minicamp elevated his status heading into camp as he's very much in the mix for the third tight end spot behind Ebron and Pettigrew.
"(I'm) trying to make a name not just for the school," Wick said. "But for myself."
He already has the distinction of being the first player in school history to sign a contract with an NFL team. That's a terrific honor, for sure, but making the Lions' initial 53-man roster out of training camp will really put Wick and Incarnate Word on the map.