Former Dr. Henry A. Wise High School wide receiver Zach Pascal took a different route towards landing a spot on an NFL team this year.
Prince George’s County native Zach Pascal recently signed as a free agent with Washington’s NFL Team. (Photo by Daniel Kucin)
Despite posting impressive numbers at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Ind. earlier this year, the six-foot-two receiver wasn’t a selection for any team during the 2017 NFL draft. He did receive calls from a bevy of teams near the conclusion of the draft, but it was to no avail.
He decided to sign as an undrafted free agent with the Washington NFL team and prepares to play, hopefully, at FedExField, only a few miles from where he lived as a student-athlete.
“It feels great being able to play in front of my family and friends and it is a blessing,” Pascal told the AFRO. “They can always come to the game now that I’m not that far away.”
The Upper Marlboro, Md. resident played cornerback under the tutelage of Wise Head Coach DaLawn Parrish. Parrish loved Pascal’s versatility on the Pumas squad and believes he provided the team with the best chance to win on every down as a two-way player.
“He can play any position,” Parrish told the AFRO. “His game is very versatile, and there is nothing that he can’t do. He’s physical, and he can run all of the routes. Some people don’t get the opportunity to play on an NFL team, and I’m sure that he is going to make the best of it. We are proud of the man that he was here and proud of the man that he is right now. It was a thing of beauty watching him play.”
Pascal had 21 receptions for 500 yards and eight touchdowns during his senior year for the Pumas. He was recognized as one of the best athletes in the area and garnered First-Team All-County and Third-Team All-State honors while participating in the 2012 All-State Chick-fil-a Football Challenge Game.
His performance in high school made him a hot commodity, and he received interest from seven different schools including Temple University in Philadelphia, Duke University in Dunham, N.C., and Toledo University in Ohio.
Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. was the right fit for Pascal, and he signed his letter of intent in December 2011 to play for the Monarchs. After a redshirt season in 2012, Pascal was a three-year starter at Conference USA, a collegiate athletic conference. He played every game for the Monarchs in 2013 with 41 receptions for 534 yards including a career-high of 124 yards and a touchdown against Howard University during a regular season matchup.
“He got better every year, and he even did in college,” said Parrish. “The good thing about going to Old Dominion is that they did a lot of stuff with him to show off all of his versatility.”
Finishing his collegiate career with the Monarchs in 2016, Pascal played 49 games and secured 233 receptions for 3,184 yards, 30 touchdowns, and averaged 13.6 yards per catch. Pascal broke Old Dominion’s reception record, previously held by Antonio Vaughn, placed as second in the history books for receiving yards in a season and is tied for second in touchdowns.
Pascal was the first Monarch player invited to the NFL Combine. He posted a 4.55 second 40-yard dash time, powered through 14 reps on the bench press, had a 36-inch vertical, and posted a 126-inch broad jump mark.
Now he is looking to maintain his spot on a team loaded with talent at his position, with the likes of newly acquired wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, pro bowler Jordan Reed, and Jamison Crowder to name a few.
Pascal is no stranger to adversity and has a positive outlook on how his football career will potentially play out. “It is a day-by-day process, I get better every day, and I get more comfortable with the concepts,” said Pascal about his adjustment to the NFL. “It is all about consistency and confidence level, and if I can do all of that, the sky is the limit. I’m trying to put PG on the map.”