Tonight, Virginia WR Canaan Severin will play for the National team under Head Coach Mike Martz in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. The game will air at 6pm ET on ESPN2.
The Collegiate Bowl, now in its fifth year, benefits players by exposing them to former NFL players and coaches for instruction and giving them the opportunity to play in front of NFL scouts. Additionally, they spend a week in California learning about the NFL Player's Association (celebrating its 60th anniversary this year) and receiving information on life in the NFL and how the union could serve them in the future.
Severin had an impressive career for the Hoos, playing 45 games and amassing 1,383 yards on 102 receptions. He hauled in 13 touchdowns as a Cavalier, all in the last two seasons of his career. In fact, Severin did the bulk of his heavy lifting in his third and fourth years. In his first two years on grounds, Severin collected just 46 yards and six receptions playing behind players like Tim Smith, Darius Jennings, and Jake McGee.
After his first two seasons, Severin also learned to manage his sickle cell trait that would often leave him feeling tired after practice or in games. ESPN wrote about his condition last fall (ignore that it says "on campus"...shudder).
"When Severin arrived on campus, trainers explained his condition in more detail, a legal requirement at the school. Severin had to sign a waiver in order to suit up, and his coaches were educated on how to properly manage his workouts and practices.
"It's not about you toughing it out," head coach Mike London said. "When you get to that feeling, it's OK to step out of line, it's OK to go see a trainer."
Still, this was the first time Severin had really dealt with his condition head-on, and the early results were troubling for him. In his first two seasons at Virginia, he caught just five passes. Worse, some fans were eager to pin his on-field struggles with a lack of effort.
"People were kind of saying I wasn't running hard or wasn't going hard, but I guess people will never know the feeling of having the sickle cell trait," Severin said. "I had to work on my endurance, so that can't be a knock on me anymore."
In his third year, Severin became a serious threat on the field and became well known with the fans for his acrobatic catches like this one from the Miami game:
He finished his junior season with 42 receptions, 578 yards, and five touchdowns.
In his final season as a Wahoo, Severin hauled in 54 receptions, 759 yards, and eight touchdowns. His connection with his roommate and quarterback, Matt Johns, was evident and his 759 yards were good to put him in 15th in the UVA record books for reception yards in a season. His 2015 performance also earned him second-team All-ACC honors.
For his career, Severin's 102 receptions puts him at 19th all-time in program history, and his 1,383 career yards is good for 15th overall in UVA history. His build (6'2", 205 lbs.) and strength will benefit him if he gets picked up for the NFL, as will his ability to make big plays.
Good luck to Canaan this evening. For more information on the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl or for full rosters, check out their website here.