INDIANAPOLIS – Little did he know it at the time, but JuJu Brents was home.
It was the first week of April and the Indianapolis Colts were holding their local Pro Day for NFL-eligible draft picks who attended local universities or high schools.
Brents’ roots stretched back to the city’s Far Eastside, roughly 20 minutes from the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. He was a former Warren Central High School standout who would build an NFL-worthy resume at Iowa and Kansas State.
A broken left wrist that required surgery shortly after the NFL Scouting Combine kept Brents from going through on-field drills, but he soaked it all in and spent quality time with first-year head coach Shane Steichen.
They chatted about how the 6-3, 198-pound Brents might fit into Gus Bradley’s defense.
If you need me for that press corner, 100% can do that. If you need me to be that guy where I need to be a little bit more zone coverage, having eyes on the quarterback and making a play on the ball, 100%.
“Had a great conversation with coach,’’ Brents said.
Fast-forward to Friday night’s second round of the draft.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard traded down twice – from No. 35 to 38 in a trade with the Raiders, then from No. 38 to No. 44 in a trade with Atlanta – before pulling Brents’ name off his board.
Brents? He and a slew of family and friends were at Birdies, a restaurant/miniature golf establishment in Westfield, when his cell phone lit up.
It flashed a 317 area code. And it wasn’t a prank that Brents had feared.
The long-time Colts fan was staying home.
“It’s crazy,’’ Brents said. “You couldn’t write a better story than this. First and foremost, man, just give my thanks to God. I feel like this is nothing but Him, just being able to have this opportunity to play in my hometown.
“Being a Colts fan my whole life, growing up watching. Peyton Manning was my favorite player growing up.’’
He proudly wore a Bob Sanders jersey.
“Now, just being able to put on that same horseshoe man, it’s nothing short of a blessing. It’s crazy, but I know this is just the start of the journey. I’m just ready to get to work, man. I feel like a lot of people kind of wrote me off and then the past year at Kansas State, I just wanted to show that I am who I say I am. Now I’m just looking forward to going out there and being able to fully compete man and be the full competitor that I am.
“I just want to win. I want to bring that winning mentality to the Colts organization and bring us back that Super Bowl.”
After three lackluster seasons at Iowa, Brents emerged the past two years at Kansas City. He started 32 games, including 14 last season when he generated 45 tackles, eight passes defended and four interceptions.
He broke his left wrist in the opener but refused to have surgery that would have interrupted things.
“I got it done after the Combine,’’ he said. “It’s doing good, man. I’m pretty much ahead of the curve on my recovery. Continue to rehab on that. But I’m going to be full-go by the time we get to camp.’’
In a bit of trivia, Brents is the first Warren Central H.S. product drafted by the Colts since Jeff George, selected No. 1 overall in 1990.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.