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Breaking Records: Five Dragons in the NFL

This last week, three O’Dowd Dragons were drafted to the NFL. Alijah Vera-Tucker ’17 was a first round pick for the New York Jets. Jevon Holland ’18 went in the second round to the Miami Dolphins. And the New York Jets also signed Camilo Eifler ’16 as a free agent.

They’ll join two more Dragons who are already in the NFL: Kevin King ’13 with the Green Bay Packers, and Hardy Nickerson, Jr ’12 with the Houston Texans.

“To have five O’Dowd alumni in the NFL within the last ten years? That’s just unheard of!” remarks TJ King ’11, brother to Kevin King. “There are no other high schools in Northern California with that kind of record.” TJ is earning his masters in sports management at the University of San Francisco. After graduating from O’Dowd, he played college football at UC Davis, and then decided he wanted to get into the business of sports – a billion dollar economy. He knows the game, inside and out.

“O’Dowd has attracted strong head coaches,” TJ declares. “Alijah, Jevon and Camilo all played under Napoleon Kaufman. As a coach, Kaufman was himself a first round draft pick, and he played for six years with the Oakland Raiders.”

Before Kaufman, O’Dowd’s head football coach was Hardy Nickerson Sr. “He was a pro coach,” says TJ. “He had 16 seasons in the NFL and played in five Pro Bowls.” Nickerson also led the Dragons in back to back league titles, and produced nearly 20 scholarship athletes in a period of three years.

TJ believes that O’Dowd’s all-star football coaches attract all-star players. “Our program develops those athletes and prepares them for college football, where they develop further,” he says. “It’s truly remarkable for O’Dowd to have that representation in the NFL, when the chances are so slim.”

Because the odds of getting into the NFL are beyond tight – out of over one million high school football players, only 1.6% make it to the NFL – TJ encourages students to explore sports management. “You don’t have to leave the game,” he asserts. “There are so many avenues to explore, from marketing and sponsorships, to advanced analytics (data), to athletic director positions.”

At O’Dowd, roughly 75 percent of our students are engaged in sport. We encourage student-athletes to play for the leadership opportunities, strength of character, and ability to overcome challenges that sports provide.

As this year’s draft comes to a close, we are immensely proud of our alumni who have achieved this ultimate success and height of athleticism. And we will continue to offer opportunities for all our students who love sports to learn directly from professionals in sports management, sports medicine, sports broadcasting and more, to reach their highest potential.


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