MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – It’s not easy to follow your dreams. It takes courage, hard work, and a blind faith that you’ll make it, even when everyone around you is counting you out.

For former Northern Michigan Football standout Jake Witt, his dream of playing professional football is closer to becoming a reality after he declared for the NFL Draft on Thursday.

“I’m super excited,” said Witt. “The opportunity is a big one. It’s something that coming in and playing football in high school that’s something my friends and I have always dreamed of. Playing at the next level in college and then to be here and to get the opportunity to play past college is huge.”

Witt says he began receiving interest from NFL teams towards the end of last season and that those conversations gave him confidence to completely commit to his dream.

“That made it easier because I didn’t want to go in blindly and just kind of feeling my way throught it,” said Witt. “So, I know I have the interest of teams out there and that was a big factor. I have a good facility that I’ll be trainging at and good people around me that I’ll be working with. So, I have a good team and I just needed that interest from the next level and we got that so it’s all go from here.”

Witt has the prototypical size of an NFL player. Standing 6’7″ and around 280 lbs, Witt has the attributes many teams at the next level are looking for.

“I feel like my strength definitely for size is my speed and explosiveness,” said Witt. “I played left tackle this season and some teams have talked to me about playing that position but I need to get my weight up probably like 20 more pounds. Some teams have spoken to me about playing the blocking tight end position so that’s kind of the middle ground.”

Witt’s next step is making sure he’s in the best shape of his life.

“Basically we’re training the tests right now,” said Witt. “We’re training the 40 [yard dash], the broad [jump], the bench-press, all of that stuff just things they will be testing me on.”

That preparation will pay off this spring when Witt takes part in an NFL Pro Day.

“I’m basically just going to be training until my Pro Day which is going to happen in mid-March,” said Witt. “When you go to a Pro Day you run your 40, do your vertical and broad jump, all of that stuff.”

Witt hopes he can put his talent on full display and catch the attention of an NFL organization.

“I need to test well there, that’s going to be my biggest stage and there will be a ton of scouts there,” said Witt. “From there, scouts can reach out and schedule you for interviews basically like visits that you do when you’re in college but at the next level. Then I believe April 24th-27th the Draft happens, after that it’s the free agency period and then from there it’s all up to me.”

The journey from a division II college to the NFL is a path not many people can say they walked, but it’s not about where you came from, and more about what you do when you get there.

“I’m super grateful,” said Witt. “The people that I’ve had around me through this journey have helped me a ton. I couldn’t have done it without them. I’m just hoping to get that shot and as soon as I get that shot I’m going to go out there and put in the work necessary to play at the next level. I believe that once one team gives me a shot it’s going to open the eyes of other ones and hopefully open up some opportunities for some smaller school guys in the future.”