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Northern Colorado's Alex Wesley took a road less traveled to Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. -- How did Alex Wesley go from Murphy, Texas to Greeley, Colorado and on to the Senior Bowl and a near-certain spot in the 2019 NFL Draft?

It was not by taking the path that many traverse to pro football. For one thing, Wesley was so lightly regarded coming out of high school that the scholarship offer he received from Northern Colorado was the only one at a level higher than Division II.

"It was either go play D-II or come to Colorado," Wesley said last week. "I had never been to Colorado before, so it was a bit of a change, but I ended up falling in love with it.

Division I schools wanted him, but they wanted him to run track and play football as a walk-on.

"I had a couple of D-II offers, small schools in Texas," Wesley said. "I told them I wanted to run track and play football, but I was a football guy, and I didn't want to have to walk on to a football team, like most of the bigger schools wanted me to do.

"They wanted me to come in on a track scholarship and walk on to football. I'm a football guy. I wanted to play football."

Northern Colorado granted him his wish. It's not that Wesley didn't run track for the Bears -- he did, and he did it well, winning the Big Sky outdoor championship three times.

But football was always first in his heart. He was an outstanding runner, but an exceptional wide receiver, posting back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2017 and 2018 while averaging 18.4 yards per catch in each of those campaigns.

It was in the first of those seasons that he began to catch the NFL's attention.

"After that CU game -- I had a pretty big game against them -- I started hearing more and more," Wesley said, referring to his 5-catch, 102-yard, two-touchdown game against the Buffaloes. "Then as the summer rolled around, I started hearing from agents and things like that, and I kind of realized that I had a chance to make it to the next level."

The speed, deep-threat ability and build of the 6-foot, 197-pound Wesley evoked some parallels with Houston's Will Fuller.

"My favorite route is going to be the post," Wesley said. "Get a cover-4 team and run the post, and nine times out of 10, I'm going to win against the corners. My least favorite route, probably the shorter routes. I'm a big-play kind of guy. I want to get down the field and make the ooh-and-ah plays. Anything deep, I really love."

But Wesley is more than just a player who can stretch the field vertically. During Wednesday's practice -- which took place at the indoor practice facility of the University of South Alabama due to heavy rain -- Wesley showed his savviness by cutting to the sideline amid coverage and catching a pass from Duke quarterback Daniel Jones, who rolled right and fired the ball into a tight window.

"Obviously, I have the speed to blow by guys, and I'm a pretty good route-runner. I ran the full route tree at my school," Wesley said. "Combining that with the speed, it makes me pretty dangerous."

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