Caleb Farley wants to clear the air, corner the market

Caleb Farley

Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley had already proven he was willing to step outside the norms.

So with his NFL future on the line, he did something you don't hear often from a professional player, and especially from an NFL coach.

With the internet swirling with questions about his health, Farley decided to tackle them head on, going into microscopic detail about a recent back procedure in hopes of convincing teams he's going to be fine for the start of the 2021 season.

"I had a procedure done Tuesday," Farley said Friday after his school's pro day (in which he did not participate in any drills or workouts). "A discectomy on the S1, which really is from my previous injury, which was a dead-lift when I herniated my L5 and bulged my S1. At the time, we chose to move forward and operate on the herniation in the L5 thinking that the S1 was not an issue. Which gave me immediate relief back and I was able to train. It wasn't physically limitating for a year. But instead of operating on the S1 – gave it a chance to heal on its own, which it had a good chance to do – but unfortunately, just a month ago I had flared it up, inflamed it, and I got advised to go ahead and fix it instead of trying to keep waiting and heal on its own because at the end of the day being so active as an athlete and always training, your disc isn't going to really going to have the time to heal and be reabsorbed back into the body like a normal person.

"I was advised to go ahead and get the procedure done on it. I'm glad it's not a reoccurrence of the same thing. I'm checked out. My previous procedure done is intact. I'm excited to move forward."

In a culture in which a player with a broken ankle might be described by a coach saying "he has a leg," it was an eye-opening reading of the medical chart.

But beyond the simple transparency — and honesty — Farley had a point to prove with the declaration.

Caleb Farley

Without the concerns about his physical condition, there would be little to criticize him for, and he'd likely be the top cornerback taken in the 2021 NFL Draft. But this is the season when we pick apart the brightest lights in college football, so Farley chose to lean into it. Later in his interview, when he was asked to elaborate (though there wasn't much more he could have said without enrolling in medical school), Farley replied: "I would love to go over it again because of a lot of misinformation."

"That's for the media," he said when asked if he was worried questions about his back would hurt his draft stock. "When the teams look at the imaging and get the real information I don't think it will be an issue.

"I accepted my draft invite, so I'll be in Cleveland. If a team wants the best corner in the draft, they'll come find me."

Farley also missed one season at Virginia Tech with a torn ACL, and played in just 23 college games. Last year, he was the first major college player to opt out of the season because of concerns about COVID-19, but the small amount of film teams have on him show a fluid and athletic corner, who can match up and run with any receiver.

Farley, who grew up in nearby Maiden, N.C., also spoke as honestly and openly about his plans to stand out in the NFL. He casually — and humbly — mentioned things like "I know I possess a very elite ability, in my athleticism and my quickness with long-term speed and my football IQ of the game."

"At this point, words aren't going to do it anymore," he said. "Time will tell. My mentality and my abilities are special. Time will tell, though."

He's also not about to back down from challenges, saying he anticipated being a day one starter and the kind of defender teams can count on shutting down half the field.

"I would love a coach to come to me and say: 'Take out this team's best wide receiver this week. If he goes for 150 receiving yards, it's on you,'" Farley said. "I would love that."

That's a bold statement.

But as he proved Friday, when he addressed all 32 teams about his medical condition before breaking it all down again in unexpected detail for reporters, he's not afraid to cover the topic as directly and thoroughly as he covers receivers.

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