By Peter Sowards
All Kyle Padron wants is an opportunity to prove himself — a chance to show he can play at the next level.
His opportunity will come sooner than expected after declaring himself eligible for the 2013 NFL draft, a surprise move to some who thought Padron would stay at EWU for his senior season in an attempt to improve his draft stock after an up-and-down junior season.
After transferring from Southern Methodist University, Padron was named the Eagles’ starting quarterback entering the 2012-2013 season and split time with redshirt freshman Vernon Adams. He tied an Eastern playoff record with six passing touchdowns in a dominant 51-35 victory over Illinois State in the Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinals, but was pulled near the end of the first half in a disappointing loss to Sam Houston State the next round.
Even though his junior season did not go exactly as planned, Padron feels the timing is right.
“I feel like if I just get a shot I can make a team,” he said. “That’s all I can ask for is to get that shot. I feel like now is the best time.”
The decision to turn pro was not made solely by Padron. After returning home to Texas for Christmas break, Padron sat down with his parents, Larry and Cindy Padron, and told them of his intentions. Larry Padron, a financial planner and branch manager at Stifel Nicolaus in Dallas, said the decision hinged on Kyle focusing on academics if football did not work out. “He’s very close to graduating,” Larry Padron said.
“The bottom line is not everybody gets an opportunity [to play professional football] and if he does not succeed and get invited [to an NFL training camp] or drafted or what have you, then it’s time to go back to school and get his degree. That’s kind of the agreement we came to.”
Kyle Padron said his relationship with his mom and dad is based on honesty and not hearing what he wants to hear. “They’re going to shoot me straight whether they think I should stay or whether they think I should leave,” he said. “We went back and forth and really tried to figure out what would ultimately be best for me in the long run. We made a group effort to really try and make the right decision. I think we did.
“I’m very excited about what’s to come, whether I’m given a shot or not.”
Padron trained at Athletes Performance, Inc., in Frisco, Texas — 30 minutes from his parents’ home and host of the FCS championship. “We were supposed to be [there],” said Padron.
Luke Anderson, a teammate of Padron’s at Southlake Carroll High School and former defensive back at the University of Wyoming, commuted with Padron to and from the facilities six days per week and spoke highly of the quarterback’s talents and character.
“He’s a sleeper and teams don’t need to sleep on him — he’s a player. I completely believe in him, and he’s been working his butt off every day. He’s got intangibles that you can’t coach,” Anderson said.
At Eastern’s pro day on March 6, Padron worked out in front of scouts from 18 NFL teams, showing off his athleticism with a 4.78 second 40-yard dash.
However, inclement weather did not allow him to throw to receivers as originally planned, and he was invited to his former school’s pro day in University Park, Texas, on March 27. Padron said he threw “about 30 passes” to wide receivers and running backs, and he also received an invitation to “Dallas Day,” an invite-only workout for local prospective NFL draftees in front of Dallas Cowboys coaches and scouts, held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington on April 10.
Padron’s collegiate career started off with enormous promise — he took over as SMU’s starting quarterback eight games into his freshman campaign and led the Mustangs to a 5-1 record and their first bowl game appearance in 25 years. He passed for a school-record 460 yards in a 45-10 win over Colin Kaepernick’s Nevada Wolfpack in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and was named the game’s most valuable player.
In 2010, Padron started all 14 games for SMU and broke five single-season school records, including total yards and touchdowns. He was named All-Conference USA honorable mention and led the team to their second consecutive bowl game appearance, a 16-14 loss to Army in the Armed Forces Bowl.
After totaling 709 passing attempts in his freshman and sophomore seasons, Padron threw just four passes — with two interceptions — his junior year before being sent to the bench by Mustangs’ head coach June Jones. Two games later, Padron suffered a season-ending injury during mop-up duty and didn’t see the field again at SMU.
“It sucks, but it’s part of the game,” Padron said of his 2011 benching. “I made a few mistakes and I understand that. It’s just frustrating more than anything. It’s frustrating going from playing every snap to not playing at all. It was a frustrating year but it happens in life, too. You’re going to have ups and downs and you just have to respond to them.”
Padron’s season-ending injury and the short shelf-life of quarterbacks factored into him and his family’s decision for Kyle to turn pro. “We felt maybe the timing would be a good time for him to go now rather than risk further injury because in 2011 he did get hurt,” Larry Padron said.
In spite of mixed results with extreme highs, bottomless lows and not much in between, Kyle Padron just wants one team to take a gamble on him. “There’s 32 teams in the NFL, and if I’m blessed and fortunate enough to sign with one of them, then that’s all I can ask for — to be given a chance.”