Too big to play football? Not for Sea-Tac Cobras
The 6-foot-10, 400-pound lineman didn't play until he was in high school, although that wasn't due to a lack of interest.
"I was always too big for my age group," Corley said after practice last week, just his fourth day with the Seattle-Tacoma Cobras.
Corley, 24, was at a crossroads in his career when the Professional Developmental Football League team called to gauge his interest. He'd just been released by the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League — the same team made famous after Kurt Warner led them to consecutive Arena Bowl appearances in 1996 and '97 — and he wasn't sure where to turn.
"I thought God had said, 'You played enough,' " Corley said.
He wasn't unemployed for long.
It took just two weeks for him to catch on with the Cobras, and Corley hopes he can develop some of his raw talent for a shot at an NFL training camp.
It's been a long road to the Seattle-Tacoma area, considering it started all the way back in Fort Washington, Md., outside of Washington, D.C.
Corley played some soccer as he grew up, and he always had his eyes on the football field. By the time he reached Friendly High School, he finally got his chance.
"It was amazing," he said. "Probably the best feeling I ever had."
Friendly was pretty good, too. The Patriots went 14-0 in 2006 and won the Maryland state championship. Corley said the team notched six shutouts and outscored its opponents "600-something to 114." At one time, Friendly was ranked No. 22 in the nation, Corley said.
"We had a strong defense," he said, adding that most of the team's records from that year still stand. "A lot of the guys I played with went off to big schools (to play college football)."
One was Joe Hayden, Friendly's quarterback and safety who also was the team's kicker and punter. Hayden, now a cornerback, went to play at the University of Florida and eventually was chosen by the Cleveland Browns as the seventh overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Corley went to Fort Valley State in Georgia for a couple of years, then transferred to Midland University, an NAIA school in Fremont, Neb. He left in December 2011 and plans to either finish his degree in business management or switch to focus on accounting.
While he was at Midland, he played with safety Kyle Abrom, another player who signed this spring to play for the Seattle-Tacoma Cobras.
Last year, Corley got some experience with the Omaha Beef of the Indoor Football League as well as the Council Bluffs (Iowa) Express, an American Professional Football League team that has since moved to Lincoln, Neb., and been renamed the Haymakers.
"Being a coach would be just as good," he said. "I want to give back to the guys."
But he's not done just yet. And he hopes there's much more in the future.
"I'm glad this opportunity came up for me out here," Corley said. "I'm glad just to be back on the football field."
By Brian McLean