GREEN BAY — Every road to the NFL has to start somewhere. Not every player starts at the FBS or even FCS level.
For Packers first round pick defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt and undrafted free agent linebacker Caliph Brice, their journey began at the community college level in Kansas at Hutchinson Community College in 2017.
NBC 26 sat down with former Hutchinson C.C. head coach Rion Rhoades to talk about the two players and another former Blue Dragon who starred for the Packers in 2021.
“I love seeing guys change their futures and it’s probably without a doubt, the most rewarding part of coaching at that level is seeing those opportunities get created when they just go to work and take care of their academics,” Rhoades said. “It’s crazy how many doors could be opened for them.”
Devonte Wyatt was always going to play for the Georgia Bulldogs, but because he struggled with academics, he had to start his career at Hutchinson Community College.
“I just felt like he handled it really well,” Rhoades said. “There was never really any, you know, ‘I don’t want to be here’ type of stuff. He went to work and showed up with a great attitude every day.”
As for what the Packers are getting in Wyatt, a talented and versatile defensive tackle who puts in the work.
“He is a very very hard worker just in general,” said Rhoades, who coached the Blue Dragons for over a decade. “I just think that’s his nature. Never had to get on him about his work ethic or how hard he was playing. All of those things are just a part of who he is.”
Coming into the draft there were concerns brought up about Wyatt’s character. According to Rhoades, he’s a great, selfless teammate who doesn’t make it all about him and has a big heart.
“I think Devonte is just a phenomenal young man,” he said. “It’s great to see this happen to him, you know a first round pick is special. I think the Packers fans are in for a treat. He’ll be a fun guy to have be a part of the organization.”
As for what the Packers can expect from undrafted free agent linebacker Caliph (pronounced Kay-Lip) Brice.
“I tell you, Caliph was a pretty instinctual kid,” Rhoades said. “Got good football IQ and I am excited to see him grow. Again, it’s been awhile since I coached him, so he’s probably a much different player than he was when I had him, but I just always felt like Caliph could get to be an all-around great player if he could become more physical and he definitely did that.”
But that’s not the only linebacker in Green Bay that Rhoades has coached. De'Vondre Campbell spent his first two years of college at Hutchinson. He was a very raw player who bulked up and put in the work to finish his college career playing for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
“Man, I’m so fired up for De’Vondre. I would say, probably, Devondre is probably the guy that in terms of guys that have made it big – he might be the biggest success story of all of them. Just because he had so much work to do to become who he’s made himself to be now as a player.”
Wyatt and Brice will be in rookie mini camp starting Friday.