Kentavius Street was a five-star recruit considered at the time to be the crown jewel of coach Dave Doeren’s 2014 recruiting class at NC State.
That’s easy to forget now that his classmate and fellow defensive end Bradley Chubb has risen to the top five of everyone’s NFL draft board.
It wasn’t until Street finished his career with the Wolfpack and emerged from Chubb’s considerable shadow that he finally began to remind the football world how talented he is.
The 6-foot-2, 282-pound Greenville native stood out at the East-West Shrine Game in January, impressing the NFL scouts in attendance with his quickness, strength and ability to disrupt plays in the backfield. His stock continued to rise a month later after recording a time of 4.87 in the 40-yard dash and bench pressing 28 reps at 225 pounds.
But Street’s rapidly building momentum came to a screeching halt and his draft prospects were thrown into doubt on April 4 when he suffered a torn ACL during a private workout with the New York Giants. The injury will almost certainly force him to miss the entire 2018 season.
“It crushes my heart for that kid,” Doeren said following State’s Kay Yow Spring Game, a few days after Street’s setback. “We feel for him and we’re praying for him.”
Playing on the opposite side of the line from the more heralded Chubb, Street quietly posted 38 tackles, including 6.5 for losses, 3.5 sacks, three pass breakups and two fumble recoveries for the Wolfpack in 2017.
Thanks to his strong postseason performances, he was being projected as an almost certain second-day selection in next week’s draft.
Perhaps as high as the late second round.
Now that he’s damaged goods, at least temporarily, it’s anybody’s guess where and when he might go.
“He now falls somewhere on Day 3, maybe you’re looking at the fifth round,” NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks said. “He may lose two rounds of compensation just because he worked out privately and got hurt. Tough break.”
Tough, but not insurmountable.
Doeren reminded Street of his still unlimited potential by telling him the story of another former player who suffered a serious knee injury in the lead-up to the 2010 draft.
O’Brien Schofield, who played for Wisconsin while Doeren was there as an assistant, tore his ACL while practicing for the Senior Bowl. He was eventually taken in the fourth round by the Arizona Cardinals and played seven NFL seasons with three teams, winning a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Seattle Seahawks in 2013.
“This isn’t going to be the way you want to enter the league, but you’re going to enter the league,” Doeren said he told Street. “You can stay as long as you can stay, as long you take care of business.”
Street’s former NC State teammate Darian Roseboro has no doubt that Street will do just that.
“I talked to him and told him that it’s just adversity and he’s going to come back better than ever,” said Roseboro, who decided to return for his senior season with the Wolfpack rather than joining fellow defensive linemen Street, Chubb, Justin Jones and B.J. Hill in the draft. “You’ve just got to trust the process.”
It’s a process that took a major step forward on Tuesday, when Street underwent surgery to repair the damage to his knee. Noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure at his Sports Medicine Institute in Pensacola, Fla.
“It looks like everything is going to be good to go,” Street’s agent, Tony Paige, said. “He’s going to be fine. He’s a really sharp, smart, good-hearted young man who understands that this is out of his control.”
Although disappointed about having his NFL dream deferred, Roseboro said that his former Wolfpack teammate has remained positive about his situation and the rehab work he has ahead of him during the coming months.
“He’s handling it really well,” Roseboro said of Street. “He’s always been a high-spirited guy. He’s looking forward to getting back to where he was.”