FRISCO, Texas -- Even though Chidobe Awuzie missed the first day of Dallas Cowboys rookie minicamp, he had a good reason to be tired.
He didn’t sleep.
After flying to Dallas on Thursday for a physical and meetings, he flew back to Denver that night, which turned into early Friday morning thanks to a delayed flight.
By 8 a.m., he was in Boulder, Colorado, for his graduation ceremony at the University of Colorado. On Friday night, he walked across the stage to receive his diploma from the business school.
He didn’t get a chance to celebrate. He had an early-morning flight Saturday to return to Dallas for his first practice.
“My lifelong dream was to play in the NFL, obviously you have to go to school to do that, and once I got into Colorado, I saw an opportunity to graduate early,” Awuzie said. “I kind of set my eyes on that and tried to handle both. It was really gratifying and it was a really proud accomplishment for me. I’m a humble guy, and my accomplishments I don’t put on par with anything else. But for my graduation, I was really proud of what I did to get there.”
Awuzie studied the Cowboys’ playbook on the plane rides. He had a quick walkthrough with the coaches, asked his new teammates some questions and was on the field for his first practice at 1 p.m. CT.
“I’m trying to get back on page,” Awuzie said.
The Cowboys had no issues with Awuzie attending his graduation.
“I just think he’s an all-around sharp person,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “Obviously it’s important to his parents and important to him. He worked hard to get that degree and we totally respect and encouraged him to be a part of that.”
Awuzie’s initial introduction to the Cowboys on draft night was punctuated by Drew Pearson's heartfelt announcement that drew a loud chorus of boos from Philadelphia Eagles fans in attendance at the draft.
“That was crazy. That was surreal,” Awuzie said. “Two picks before, I had got the call and I was kind of hugging everybody and dropping tears, and I stepped outside to get some fresh air and just think, reflect. And I come back in for my pick, and I’m kind of staring at the screen while he’s talking, like ‘What’s going on?’ Like a ‘Just say my name’ kind of thing. I was like ‘Dang, what’s going on?’ And all of a sudden he just says my name, and I was just like ‘Dang, that was crazy.’ Especially when I heard my name, it happened to be me -- from a legend like that, to play for a great organization like this -- it was really surreal.”