has paid a price to get to the NFL.
Underwood took a tumultuous path to the NFL. As a highly regarded high school cornerback from Hamilton, Ohio, he signed with powerhouse Ohio State. But, as Underwood put it, “when you sign a scholarship, you’re a student-athlete and I was just being an athlete.”
Underwood was dismissed from Ohio State because of academic issues and missed meetings and settled on close-to-home Cincinnati. He estimates he paid about 75 percent of the cost of his education, so he’s got a hefty balance of student loads to worry about.
“It really helped me be accountable for my actions,” he said. “It taught me to humble myself in all situations.”
Underwood sat out the 2007 season after transferring and wound up starting at safety for the Bearcats to open 2008. When top corner Mike Mickens went down with a knee injury, Underwood stepped into his place. He earned first-team recognition on the all-Big East team with three interceptions, six pass deflections and two forced fumbles.
The Packers like Underwood’s versatility and size, with general manager Ted Thompson saying he was “pretty keen” on him. At 6-foot-1 and 198 pounds, he’s big enough to play cornerback. He’s also got the speed with a 4.48 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, so he’ll likely be tried first at cornerback, assistant director of college scouting Shaun Herock said.
Herock said Ohio State’s coaches regarded Underwood as one of the “most talented kids to go through that program. That’s an eye-opening thing.”
Underwood considers himself a “natural corner,” in part because of his physical characteristics.
“I’ve always been told since I was young that I had monkey arms. It’s something that complements my 36.5-inch vertical,” he said.
Underwood, who’s adept at bump-and-run coverage, called it a “blessing” to be a late-round draft selection.
“I have a great chance,” to be a good player, he said. “I’m a hard worker. I’m a smart player. I want it. I’m hungry.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.