Former Atlanta Rabbit enters pro football with Houston Texans

Mizzou Football - Headshots

ATLANTA, Texas — Former Atlanta Rabbits and Missouri Tigers defensive end Rickey Hatley, Jr. took time to stop by sister station KPYN’s The Original Trading Post Monday to talk about his undrafted free agent signing with the Houston Texans.

“The whole draft, I expected to be picked up in the later rounds or something,” said Hatley. “But throughout the whole draft day, three-day weekend I was nervous waiting to hear a phone call. And by the sixth round the Houston Texans said if I was still around, they’d be happy to pick me up have me be a part of their team. I was just excited about that to get the text message.”

Houston had invited the senior defensive end to pre-draft workouts at NRG Stadium and also had a scout at Missouri’s pro day. Even though the club didn’t use one of its seven draft picks on Hatley, they still found tremendous value in him and signed him to an undrafted free agent contract.

While Hatley has yet to speak with head coach Bill O’Brien or defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, he has spoken with defensive line coach Anthony Weaver, who is excited to give Hatley a chance to make the team.

Hatley, who finished out his collegiate career with 67 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, and a forced fumble in 27 games played, is equally pleased he will be one of the first members of his family to graduate from a Division I college, let alone play in it and continue his career in the NFL.

Said Hatley: “That was my main thing to go to a D-1 and be able to graduate big. I would be one of the first ones in my family to graduate big from a major university. So, just the whole process was good. The family atmosphere — the main thing I miss about Mizzou is how they cared about their players on and off the field and how they want you to graduate to be ready for life after football, which is a big goal for me.”

Now, Hatley recognizes he is going to start from the bottom once again, just as he did with the Tigers in 2013.

“I had to start off from the bottom,” explained Hatley. “With the Texans, I have to start all over again and humble myself and learn this and hope I can be the best one there.”

Hatley’s life and that of his family will obviously adjust to his new life in pro football. One aspect that is being re-evaluated is his loyalty and his dad’s loyalty to the Dallas Cowboys, Hatley’s childhood team growing up in Atlanta.

“I’ll have to change this a little bit,” said Hatley. “My pop’s still a Cowboys fan, but he said he’ll try to squeeze them in between now.”

The entire interview can be heard below: