It was Saturday night and the NFL draft was wrapping up when I received a text from Dan Persa. The text read that he was going to get an opportunity with the Tampa Bay Bucs. To say I was proud is an understatement. I remember Dan as a young freshman at Liberty high school working out in my basement nine years ago on a Sunday morning at 9:00am. It was at these early morning workouts, I could see that Dan Persa had something special. He wasn’t 6’4, didn’t run a 4.3 40, but the one thing Dan did have was the determination to be the best that he could be. While most high school freshman slept in, Dan was pushing towards his dream of one day making his mark as one of the top qb’s in the Lehigh Valley, State, and Northwestern history.
Now that he is beginning the next chapter in his life, I know that whatever happens, Dan will be prepared both physically and mentally to meet the challenge. The odds were stacked against an under 6’0 quarterback when he went to Northwestern and I would often hear that he was going to need to switch positions if he wanted to play. I heard this from people who didn’t have the relationship that I had with Dan nor an understanding of what type of athlete and work ethic he possessed. I would receive calls from Dan early on in his career asking for additional speed training workouts that he could do with his teammates after they finished their team workouts. Always looking to create an edge for himself and find a way to improve, Dan never left a stone unturned and never made an excuse as to why he didn’t play. Instead he was seeking ways to get on the field and work towards becoming the starting QB. He wanted to give it his all and make the best out of the talent he was born with. Dan was someone who possessed what it took to beat the odds and show others that you could achieve regardless of the circumstances when you fully commit to yourself.
Now that he has finished his career as the NCAA All-Time Leader in completion percentage, a two time All-Big 10 selection, and overcame a terrible achilles injury to lead his team to another bowl game, he is able to go after another dream. The dream of becoming an NFL quarterback. The odds to have any opportunity to play a professional sport are slim for anyone but if I had to choose someone who could beat the odds, it would be Dan Persa. We wish Dan the best as he attends the Bucs mini camp this weekend and know that if you bet against Dan, you better be in for a fight. Regardless of what happens over the next few months, Dan will be a winner in all aspects of life, an inspiration to athletes, and an example of what hard work, determination, and discipline can do for a person when they commit to their goals.
Good luck Dan and rip it up!!!!