- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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As fate would have it, Dan Fox will find himself in New York next weekend during the NFL Draft. His older brother, Bill, is graduating from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai next Friday. And if Dan Fox's name happens to be called at nearby Radio City Music Hall sometime between next Thursday and Saturday, well, it will mark one happy weekend for a pair of brothers on the brink of fulfilling childhood goals.
"It's very exciting, and a little nerve-wracking," Fox said. "But this is what I played the game for. It's what I've grown up dreaming up about."
Nerve-wracking is one way to describe the wayward path the former Notre Dame linebacker has taken in the months since completing his five-year college career. The Cleveland native has done pre-draft prep everywhere from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to South Bend, Ind., and now just outside of Chicago.
He did not go to Indianapolis, as he was left off the guest list of February's NFL scouting combine, creating a chip on his shoulder in the two months since.
"That was definitely disappointing," Fox said. "But I realized there were a lot of juniors that came out, and I definitely feel like I'm one of the best linebackers. So that was disappointing, but it just added fuel to the fire. I've been training harder and working out harder, too."
The 6-foot-2, 233-pounder responded with a strong showing at Notre Dame's pro day, taking part in every drill and posting a time of 4.59 in the 40-yard dash, which would have been the third-fastest 40-time by a linebacker at the combine. Fox said he has run faster before, but the overall takeaway was a positive one, as a handful of teams have reached out to him with interest since.
He is spending the home stretch before the draft working out at EFT Sports Performance in Highland Park, Ill., just north of Chicago. Fox feels all the better for having endured an up-and-down final season with the Fighting Irish, one that saw him lose his starting job halfway through the campaign while playing through a knee injury before rebounding to play arguably the best ball of his career down the stretch, finishing with a team-best 95 tackles.
"I grew as a person, just because that stuff wasn't really in my hands," a fully-healthy Fox said. "I wasn't able to play to the best of my ability at the beginning, and then a little bit in the middle. And then once I started getting healthy and feeling good, that's when I could really show what I was capable of."
It might just be good enough to get drafted, as Fox has been widely projected as a late-round pick or free-agent signee. Either of those scenarios would inch him ever-so closer to what has been a lifelong dream, something his parents reminded him of recently when they unearthed a third-grade letter he had written to himself about life goals.
His first goal was to play football at Cleveland St. Ignatius High. His second was to play at Notre Dame. His third was to play quarterback for the Browns.
Close enough -- even if Fox has never taken a snap under center in his life.
"I don't know where I thought that was going to come from," he laughed.