Dewayne Cherrington will be on the biggest stage in sports with the Seattle Seahawks this weekend at Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey.
It’s a far cry from the 2009 Central Gwinnett grad’s previous two jobs as a car salesman and clerk at Walmart.
“It’s a crazy feeling,” said Cherrington, a rookie on the Seahawks’ practice squad, of today’s game with the San Francisco 49ers. “It’s what every kid dreams about, going to the Super Bowl. It’s kind of surreal.”
It was just a few years ago that Cherrington, 23, was working at Walmart on Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville after his first year of college. He said he enjoyed his co-workers and managers working in the pet department and garden section, but the job gave him some clarity about life.
“It kind of made me realize this is not a joke. I needed to find a job and that’s when I started drawing up a plan,” Cherrington said. “The worst part was I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do.”
Cherrington graduated from Holmes Community College and signed with Mississippi State. The 6-foot-3, 335-pound defensive tackle was a main cog in the Bulldogs’ defense for two seasons. Despite his production and cranking out 36 reps on the 225-pound bench press test on his pro day, Cherrington went undrafted.
He was signed by the New England Patriots in May, but was cut one month later.
“After being cut by the Patriots, I had no clue what I was going to do next. I was kind of nervous,” Cherrington said.
Cherrington’s agent lined up workouts with Arizona, Baltimore and Seattle. It was after his workout with Arizona that he received a call from Seattle and was signed.
“I was just excited anyone in the NFL wanted me,” Cherrington said.
Cherrington was signed during the middle of the preseason and was with the team for two weeks before being cut again.
“When Seattle signed me, it was in the middle of the preseason, so I had a chance to compete for a job,” Cherrington said. “I knew there was a possibility I would go to the practice squad. The transition from college to the NFL takes time for some players.”
After being cut, Cherrington returned home to Lawrenceville, where he worked at Hyundai off Satellite Boulevard as a car salesman.
He sold five cars in a month, including the most expensive car on the lot, that experienced salesmen had not not been able to sell.
Then he got the call he was waiting for his whole life. Seattle had signed him to the practice squad. He was now an employee of an NFL team.
“The experience was great. It made me grow up,” Cherrington said.
As a member of the practice squad, Cherrington is not on the 53-man roster. But he still does everything a player on the active roster does every day and week. He goes to meetings, workouts, practices and the games.
“Being on the practice squad, my job is to get the starting offensive line a good look. I do everything a regular roster player does,” Cherrington said.
On game day, Cherrington dresses out and gets the offensive line warmed up. Then he’s on the sidelines in workout clothes for the game.
“I don’t get to play in games, so that’s a little disappointing,” Cherrington said.
Cherrington grew up in New York with his mother Cheryl Smith. He moved to Lawrenceville when he was a sophomore in high school and lived with his aunts Sophia and Denise Prawl and his grandmother Ruth Wilson. At Central Gwinnett, he played under former head coach Ed Stokes and was a highly recruited player. However, he never imagined he would be at the Super Bowl.
“(My family is) pumped for me because they have seen me through the struggles of working at Walart, getting cut and selling cars,” Cherrington said. “They are happy that I’m doing what I love.”