NFL Draft prospects from all over the United States dream of one day signing their name to a contract after being selected in the NFL Draft. One draft prospect, Robert Soderholm III, enters Thursday’s draft already under a contract, not with an NFL team, but with the United States Army. Just like his journey to the military, his rise to notoriety among NFL scouts has been unconventional. His path to the NFL draft began not with coaches on the field but with a few keystrokes and a search bar.
Soderholm started playing football at the age of nine. From a young age, he had a strong build. By the time he was in middle school, he was 5-8, 185 pounds leading him to play mostly center before attending Mountain View High School in Stafford, Va. Soderholm played both center and linebacker at Mountain View, but early on into his high school football career, he saw long snapping as a way to elevate him to the Varsity team. The only problem was he didn’t know how. That’s where YouTube came in.
“I went to YouTube and was like, how to long snap? Late high school is when I actually got like a coach involved,” he told reporters.
Soderholm had some interest from Division II and III schools coming out of high school but knew in order to afford college, he would have to earn a scholarship, so he began to look at military schools.
Ultimately he accepted a three-year ROTC scholarship to the Virginia Military Institute. When he arrived at the school, he was told that he could try out as a preferred walk-on for the football team that had only won one game the year before.
Soderholm took hold of the opportunity, putting in as many extra reps as he could both in the weight room and on the field. He would spend any extra money he could find on trips to train with high-level trainers around the country to ensure he kept improving as a long snapper.
His hard work paid off, and he received a full scholarship at the end of his sophomore year.
Being on scholarship didnt stop him from completing insane workouts in the gym, relying on his strength and athleticism to distinguish him from other long snappers around the country.
His hard work in the gym and on the field paid off in dividends. In his five-year career at VMI he didnt miss a snap or allow a single blocked punt. Because of this consistency, he was named to four all-American teams and was invited to the 2023 senior bowl.
The Next Step
If signed by a team, Soderholm plans to complete his military service requirements during the off-season. He would become the first NFL Player to come out of VMI since Mark Stock in 1989.
Soderholm has come extremely far on his journey, going from a high schooler with no Division 1 offers who learned how to snap on Youtube, to graduating with a full scholarship and being an officer in the US military. This is a true testament that you can accomplish great things with hard work, dedication, and determination.
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