Dann O’Neill hoped to hear his name called during the later rounds of the National Football League draft on Saturday.
But instead of watching the TV agonizing over his chances at being selected, the Grand Haven native instead immersed himself in a cutthroat game of Monopoly with his parents.
And like he’s done on the football field over the past several years, O’Neill dominated.
“I decimated them,” he said with a laugh. “I ended up with all the hotels.”
O’Neill’s name was not called during the draft, but that doesn’t mean his NFL dreams were dashed. Instead, as the draft wrapped up, O’Neill received a call from the Houston Texans.
“Toward the beginning of the seventh round, the Texans gave me a call and expressed shock that I hadn’t been picked up yet,” O’Neill said. “They said, ‘We’d love to pick you up as a free agent. Be sure you’re by your phone at the end of the draft.’
“Fifteen minutes later, they gave me a call, said hold on, we’re going to get your agent on the phone too and work out a deal right now. It was pretty awesome.”
So today, O’Neill is a Texan. His spot on the team is not guaranteed, but he plans to head down to Texas and do his best to earn a spot on the Texans’ roster.
“I’m really excited to be a Texan,” O’Neill said. “They’re a team on the up-and-up. They have a great coach, a great organization full of great players. It’s going to be a great environment to develop as a football player.
“At this point, it’s the same as it was when I was in college, trying to get a starting spot. I’m going to go work as hard as I can, give it my all, and eventually, it will pay off. That’s really all you can do is work as hard as you can.”
The 6-foot-8, 305-pound offensive tackle was a first-team all-Mid American Conference selection his senior year at Western Michigan University. He started all 35 games he played for the Broncos after transferring to WMU from the University of Michigan.
The son of Jim O’Neill and Sue Collins, O’Neill was one of the top high school recruits in the state during his time at Grand Haven High School.
Now he’ll look to do the same at the highest level, on a team with an exciting offense that features the NFL’s most explosive running back in Arian Foster; big-time playmaker Andre Johnson; and quarterback Matt Schaub.
O’Neill won’t have to wait long to get his first taste of life in the NFL.
“Monday or Tuesday, the travel people in their front office are going to give me a call, schedule a flight to get me down there, go through the physical and all that stuff, and the minicamp starts the week after that,” O’Neill said. “So I’m getting right into it. It’s a fast pace.”
O’Neill’s older brother, Jimmy O’Neill, also played football at Western Michigan University.
A year ago, O’Neill’s high school and college teammate, John Potter, was drafted in the seventh round by the Buffalo Bills. Potter, a kicker, eventually made the Bills’ roster, but was cut midway through the season, and is still hoping to be picked up by another NFL team.