Having recovered from two ACL surgeries during his college career at Maryland, running back Jake Funk is quite familiar with the concept of patience.
So it's fitting then, that even as he kept waiting and waiting for his name to be called as others heard theirs 2021 NFL Draft, he never lost hope that he would get selected.
In the seventh round, he got the call from the Rams.
"I never gave up faith," Funk said during a video conference with reporters after being selected 233rd overall. "I knew L.A. really liked me. I knew that they loved the special teams component that I bring. It's something that, I think, helped me get to the point where I'm at. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the special teams aspect of my game and that's something that L.A. just continued to preach, is that you're going to make our team through special teams."
Funk spoke from his backyard at his family's home in Damascus, Maryland, as he shared his reaction to the big moment. Judging by the video of the reaction to the phone call and subsequent pick announcement on TV, a sizable group had been waiting alongside him and watching the last two days unfold.
"It was definitely crazy," Funk said. "You have a lot of teams that are interested in you throughout the whole entire way. You constantly are like, you look through the draft and you're like, 'All right, well this pick, I'm alive at this pick and then they ultimately pick some other position or another guy in your position.' So, you're like, 'All right.' Your mind is just continuously racing, right? It's like a roller coaster it's up, down, up, down, where you could get picked and you don't get picked. Then, when you finally do get picked it's a real special moment with family, with friends. I'm very fortunate to have a great support network that I'm here celebrating with right after I get off the phone with you guys. So, now just very fortunate."
No longer having to ride those ups and downs, Funk can now turn his attention to the rewarding the Rams for their faith in him.
As mentioned by him earlier, he will look to do that as a special teams contributor, which he has proven capable of being when healthy. Funk averaged 18.4 yards per kickoff return across nine attempts as a sophomore and 16.3 across three as a freshman.
What appealed to the Rams most, however, was what he could bring to coverage units – general manager Les Snead on Saturday said Funk was another "highly rated coverage player" on their board, like tight end and draft classmate Jacob Harris.
Funk has the right mindset to excel in the role.
"You just have to be excited to make a play," Funk said. "Like, football is about making game-changing plays no matter when you're on the field. If you can run down on a kickoff, pin somebody inside the 20 (yard line), create a big hit that gets the defense fired up and ready to go, it helps the team win. It's all about the team. So for me, that's just been my core, where it's like I'm going to do whatever it takes to help our team win. And if that's being a cover guy on special teams and going down there and getting a tackle or a big hit inside the 20, I'm going to do it. If that's a contributing role on offense, I'm going to do that. Whether that's first, second-down back, third-down back, doesn't matter. Whatever opportunities you get on the field, you have to be able to take advantage and be that ballplayer that goes out and just makes a play when the team needs it."