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Tears of Joy

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It was a poignant moment for Darrelle Revis, tears streaming down his face after the former Aliquippa High School and Pitt cornerback received a phone call from the New York Jets.

It was then that Revis realized his dreams of becoming an NFL first-round draft pick were about to come true, that his hard work was about to pay off. It’s an oft-overlooked quality, the dedication to maximize your potential.

With four NFL first-round picks coming out of such a small town, they like to joke that there must be something in the water in Aliquippa. I actually brought a bottle to Aileen Gilbert’s Brodhead Road home, hoping to get a sip for my 3-year-old son, Kieran, but forgot to do so in all the commotion after Revis was selected.

If only you could bottle Revis’ teardrops, to capture that moment and preserve it forever.

Revis was blessed with athletic bloodlines. His uncle, Sean Gilbert, was the No. 3 overall pick by the Los Angeles Rams in 1992. Another uncle, Mark Gilbert, played basketball at Iona and Duquesne. But, as this timeline will show, Revis worked hard to realize his dream:

At Aliquippa, he led the WPIAL in scoring and actually had difficulty deciding which sport to play in college.

Perhaps the clincher was how Revis performed in the PIAA Class AA football playoffs, where he single-handedly elevated a young Quips team to the state title with a record-setting performance that earned him Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Player of the Year honors.

Revis ultimately chose the Pitt Panthers, in part because he was offered the opportunity to play both sports. Before he could play either sport at Pitt, first Revis had to qualify.

Once at Pitt, it didn’t take long for Revis to earn a spot in the starting lineup . By the season opener, word was out about the Panthers’ best-kept secret and Revis made an immediate impact then finished the season as a freshman All-American.

By his junior season, Revis was covering the wide side of the field and opponents were unwilling to test him.

When Revis declared for the NFL Draft not every mock draft had him pegged for the first round. But Revis raised his stock with an impressive Pro Day performancethat solidified his first-round status and set up Saturday’s celebration.

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