NFL draft diary: Former Ohio State RB Trey Sermon gives inside story of selection by 49ers

Trey Sermon
Special to The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State running back Trey Sermon, here celebrating a touchdown against Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game, was elected by the San Francisco 49ers with the 88th pick in the NFL draft.

Running back and Georgia native Trey Sermon transferred from Oklahoma to Ohio State last spring before becoming one of the stars of the Buckeyes’ run in the College Football Playoff.

Now he’s bound for another part of the country, headed to the West Coast. In this year’s NFL draft, the San Francisco 49ers picked Sermon late in the third round, trading two fourth-round picks to the Los Angeles Rams as part of a deal to acquire the No. 88 overall selection.

Over the past months, Sermon has detailed the pre-draft process and his training in a series of diaries, as told to Dispatch reporter Joey Kaufman. In his final entry, he relives the experience of the second day of the draft on April 30 before departing this week for rookie minicamp in the Bay Area. Read his previous entries in part 1 and part 2

NFL draft diary:Former Ohio State RB Trey Sermon on transitioning to pre-draft training

NFL draft diary:Former Ohio State RB Trey Sermon discusses recent workouts, medical tests

I was at my Airbnb in downtown Atlanta. I probably had about 12 people there. My mom. My sister. My niece. One of my old teammates from Oklahoma. One of my coaches from high school. My trainer. And some of my teammates in high school that I’m still really close with. It wasn’t too much. We had some pizza and some wings there, but really, I was just sitting there watching the whole draft. I didn’t have much of an appetite. I think I only had one slice of pizza and three wings.

Trey Sermon's hard work was rewarded on draft day, when the San Francisco 49ers selected him. Said Sermon: "Because of the zone blocking scheme they do, it’s a perfect fit."

At one point, I thought it could’ve been Miami to pick me because I knew they wanted a running back. I thought it was going to be the Falcons because I knew they wanted a running back as well. Those are two teams I thought were possibilities beforehand. They were earlier in the third round and in the second as well.

The 49ers called me before they traded up for that pick. It was kind of crazy, because I was sitting there and thinking, ‘Man, am I going to get called tonight?’ I actually got up to go to the bathroom. I really hadn’t moved from this seat since the draft started. So this final time, I just wanted to get up, use the bathroom, get some fresh air. I think I was in there for five seconds, and I left my phone on the chair on the couch, and my phone started ringing. Everybody just grabbed my phone and started banging on the bathroom door. I was trying to hurry up and wash my hands and try to open the door to get to the phone, make sure I didn’t miss that call.

General manager John Lynch was on the other end. He was saying they were happy that I was available. They didn’t think I was going to be there. They were excited to welcome me in. One thing my trainer told me was that all you need is one team to fall in love with you. Not 32. You just need one. So for the 49ers to fall in love with my game and the type of person that I am, it means a lot because they have a great organization and a great system. To be a part of that is exciting.

Trey Sermon runs drills during the 49ers' rookie minicamp in Santa Clara, Calif., on Friday.

I was pretty emotional just because it’s been a long journey for me. Everyone’s goal that plays the game, that has aspirations of playing at the next level, wants to get drafted. You want to see your name pop up on that screen. For me to finally see it and have that moment was like a dream come true.

A couple of my old teammates who are already in the league told me the team that you least expect to pick you will be the one. Usually the teams you talk to the most don’t pick you. That’s what I had heard a lot throughout the process. Although I talked to the 49ers the most. I talked to running backs coach Bobby Turner a lot. He was a great guy, a great coach, and I could tell he cares about his players and he wants to bring out the best in them. A lot of times, we talked just to get to know each other a little bit more. And then we talked football, of course. Talked ball.

It means a lot for them to trade up and get me. They really wanted me to be a part of their organization, and I’m definitely grateful for that. It’s a perfect fit for me, and I’m ready to get out there. Because of the zone blocking scheme they do, it’s a perfect fit. I did that at Ohio State. I did that at Oklahoma too — not as much, but I definitely did it a lot at Ohio State. I’m just kind of already familiar with it. And I can the ball catch out of the backfield well. I know they like to create mismatches.

Trey Sermon on his NFL future: "Everything will work itself out as long as I just continue to work hard, and really get the playbook down, and be the best I can be, and I know I’ll be fine."

I want to prove them right, prove myself right, that I’m the best running back and I’m a great teammate. Just let them know they didn’t make a mistake. What they saw on tape previously is what they’re going to get. I definitely want to play right away. I’m confident in my ability, and I know I can play at a high level in the NFL. There’s no doubt about it.

It’s a great team. They have a great offensive line and a great defense. They were just in the Super Bowl the other year. It’s a great system for running backs. So I know for me coming in, everything will work itself out as long as I just continue to work hard, and really get the playbook down, and be the best I can be, and I know I’ll be fine.

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman