A common consequence of the NFL draft is the fact that players sometimes end up just short of receiving a college diploma. Often players opt out of finishing their education for the riches pro football is sure to offer. Others just didn't deem it necessary at their time of selection.
Such was the case for Buffalo Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin and tight end Derek Schouman, who both ended up mere credits short of receiving their undergraduate degrees at their respective colleges.
McKelvin, of Troy University, and Schouman (Boise State), have found ways to go back to complete their educations. Unfortunately it was injury that provided them with the time needed to complete their degrees.
The 25-year-old Schouman ended up being carted off the field with a knee injury last season in the Bills' 33-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2 and was promptly placed on injured reserve. McKelvin, 24, aggravated a previously suffered ankle injury the following week in a 27-7 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. He too landed on I-R.
The two made the most of the injury bug that plagued the Bills last year, using the down time to take care of their unfinished business.
McKelvin, pending passing his last course, will be receiving an undergraduate degree in Sports Management from his alma mater in May. Schouman, who is completing his last 11 credits, will be putting the final touches on his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice in May, as well.
"Especially with injuries, you never know how long you're going to be here," McKelvin said following an optional practice Tuesday. "So, you know, I really wanted to get that out of the way, especially for my mom. She really wanted me to graduate, so I wanted to finish the best that I can."
For Schouman it gave him a sense of purpose when football wasn't an option.
"It was good because I thought that I was doing something," he said. "I was being productive, and I wasn't just sitting around. It gave me something else to focus on, mentally. It really helped me get through those few months where I couldn't walk.
"After I got hurt, I called back to Boise and asked what I had to do. I guess it was kind of a blessing in disguise. I beat the deadline by about a week, and I was able to enroll and finish out my semester."
According to Schouman, the injury weighed heavily on him as the season wore on. Something had to be done to soothe the uncertainty.
"Getting hurt was really hard on me mentally," he said. "We are living the dream. Especially for me, this is something I always dreamed of doing. You never think about an injury as part of it, it just happens. For me personally, it's more like a trial that you've got to overcome.
"It's a long process; it's not very fun. But it's part of the job. I'm just glad to be healthy, and I can't wait to get started."
While the two aren't exactly that far removed from college life, considering McKelvin was last there in 2008 and Schouman in '07, there's a definite transition period from life in the NFL back to life in the classroom.
"Everybody knows you. Everybody knows who you are," he said. "You pretty much have to do the right thing. People try to put you in bad situations. It has been a big difference. Troy is pretty much not a big school. I've never let it become a problem."
Schouman echoes a similar sentiment regarding the transition, though he admits it's never been a problem for him, either.
"For me, there was a difference just because it's been a few years," he said.
McKelvin and Schouman are obviously committed to playing now, but the future is always up in the air. The former has more definitive plans with what he would want to do with his degree when his playing days are over.
"Basically, it's life after football," said McKelvin. "In the field of sports management you can do a lot of different things.
"I could stick around the NFL, or it could be at the college level or high school level. I love football, and I always want to be around it. And hopefully one day I can be a coach. If not, and I can play long-term in the NFL, I want to do that, but I want to be able to teach the game, too.
"As of right now, I'm still doing my internship. School's nearing an end, so I've got to turn in my final projects."
But come mid-May, McKelvin and Schouman will come back to the Bills for OTAs as college grads.