Many teams at the developmental football level promote the idea of getting players an opportunity to move up in their football careers, but not all teams actually get those results. The East Alabama Predators are among the group that does, as offensive utility player Jerquin “Joe” Vines recently signed to play for the Sorriso Hornets in Brazil.
“I played a season this past summer for the Predators,” Vines told Developmental Football USA. “After that, I began to put my film together and send it out. I was talking to some NFL teams and CFL teams, then someone told me about Europlayers.com so I made a profile on that.”
When an offer to continue pursuing his dream was finally put on the table for the former Tennessee Tech and Alabama State wide receiver, it wasn’t a tough decision to make.
“Their coach found me and asked me about the opportunity,” Vines said. “I didn’t give it a second thought. I strictly said ‘yes.’ We’ve been communicating. The process took a couple of weeks, about three weeks. They were deciding between several players, then the coach wrote me last Monday and said they chose me.
“They like how versatile I am. I can play offense, defense, and special teams, but their quarterback would really like for me to play offense. As far as a position I’ll play wide receiver, cornerback, safety, punt returner, kick returner and even some quarterback in the Wildcat.”
“I was actually going to Detroit to play in the Rivals Football League, but it wasn’t what it was advertised to be,” Vines said. “I came back home and began to play with the Predators. A couple of guys from my hometown played for the team and asked me to play for them, so I said ‘Why not play with them? It’ll help me get closer to my dream.’”
Several months later, it really did get him closer to his dream and by next month he’ll be scoring touchdowns in Brazil.
“To everyone out there, the people that are watching me still playing, some think their career is over but never give up,” Vines said. “Other than the obvious ways, there are other ways to get to your dream. Never give up, keep working because you never know what can happen.”
Vines’ contract includes flights, housing, meals, a gym membership and a monthly salary and is good for two seasons. The Hornets play two seasons per year: one from March to June and the other from July to December.
“I would also like to give a major credit to the East Alabama Predators establishment for the hard work and dedication they put into the program,” Vines said.
Having played for two different Football Championship Subdivision schools before playing for the Predators in the Gridiron Developmental Football League, Vines has a good basis for comparing the two levels of competition.
“I would say, some teams, a couple of teams we played, they weren’t up to par, but it wasn’t a breeze you could just walk over,” Vines said. “The majority of the teams we played against, I could compare to college teams I’ve played against. Skill wise and size wise, they were similar. There are some pretty tough teams.”
Vines is currently in the process of getting his passport and ironing out his travel details, but will leave as soon as he’s able to.
“They want me to be there as soon as possible,” Vines said.
Until then, Vines plans to stay on his grind so he can make a statement in South America.
“I’m always training,” Vines said. “I was even before I got the opportunity, I was always training hard to improve myself and make a huge impact.”