DARLINGTON – First he was a Redbird, then he was a Badger. Now, Darlington native Alex Erickson is hoping to become a Bengal.
Erickson dreams of playing in the National Football League became a reality on Saturday afternoon when he agreed to sign a free agent contract to join the Cincinnati Bengals a short time following the 2016 NFL Draft.
His team mascots keep getting larger and more ferocious, and so will the competition as the 6’0”, 197-lbs. wide receiver out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison tries to make the jump to the next– and highest– level.
He will take the field as a member of the 90-man Bengals roster later this week when he participates in the team’s mini-camp along with the newest draftees and free agents signings.
Erickson, the son of Mike and Linda Erickson and a 2011 graduate of Darlington High School, was hoping to have his name called during one of the seven rounds of this weekend’s NFL Draft
In 40 career games and 29 career starts at UW, Erickson finished sixth among UW’s all-time leaders with 141 catches and he placed 10th all-time in yardage with 1,877 yards. He also finished with six TDs.
The Badgers won 30 of the 40 games he played in during his illustrious career.
Erickson started 12 games his senior season and was the Badgers’ leading receiver for the second-straight year with 77 catches– second-most in school history– for 978 yards on his way to a first-team All-Big Ten selection.
The receiver his teammates lovingly nicknamed “All-AmErickson” caught more than twice as many balls as the team’s second-leading pass-catcher, and he gain more than 560 more yards than the team’s next best receiver.
He finished the season ranked second in the Big Ten and 31st in FBS-1A in receptions and fourth in the Big Ten and 41st in the FBS in yardage.
Erickson was a three-time letter winner with the Badgers and following the 2015 season he was named UW’s Offensive Player of the Year and selected to the All-Big Ten first-team offense by the media and the All-Big Ten second team offense by the conference coaches.
Erickson, a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, graduated in December with a degree in agricultural business management.
After graduation, Erickson signed with the Siegen Sports LLC agency and started training his NFL in Michigan.
Several teams showed interest in the former Redbird three-sport star prior to the draft, including the Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and the Bengals, and on Saturday– the final day of the draft– he took phone calls from several other teams, including the Baltimore Ravens and the Los Angeles Rams, but he went undrafted through the seventh round.
That allowed Erickson’s camp to pick where he wanted to sign and the team that he choose was the Cincinnati Bengals, who are coached by Marvin Lewis.
Once a walk-on with the Badgers, Erickson will now try to “walk-on” in the NFL, but he’ll have an uphill battle to make the Bengals’ final 53-man roster. However, he knows what it will take to do that and he’s going to give it his all to achieve his goal.
NFL training camps begin in July and teams must trim their rosters down to 75 players by early September before cut down to the 53-man roster allowed by the NFL. Each team can also maintain a 10-man practice squad during the season.