PALOS PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Maywood native Perrion Winfrey is on the edge of his seat Thursday night; he's considered a top 50 prospect to be picked in the first round of the NFL draft.
The NFL hopeful is spending his evening surrounded by family and friends in a home in Palos Park. He walked down to a cheering crowd of his biggest fans on his biggest night.
"That's the best part. I like being able to be around other people that believed me when nobody else believed in me and just being around my loved ones each and every single day," he said.
"My emotions are so high right now," said Shantel Thomas, mother. "Never in a million years did I imagine we would ever, ever be here."
Thomas said she remembers the day her son told her he wanted to play in the NFL.
"The reason I'm so proud of Perrion because even when maybe other people didn't believe in him, he believed in himself. He's spoke this every day all the time. I'm going to the NFL," she said.
The Lake Park High School alum's journey to this big day has taken him from the western suburbs to Iowa Western Community College, where he ranked No. 1 overall junior college recruit.
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From there, Winfrey joined the Oklahoma Sooners as a defensive tackle, and was named the Reese's Senior Bowl MVP.
He said throughout every move it was his family that both grounded and drove him.
"Every day, constantly, just making sure that I was doing the right things and making sure my head was on straight," he said.
He's now considered a top 50 prospect, and draft expert say he could be picked up within the first two days of the 2022 NFL draft.
Winfrey said whatever team he ends up on, he plans to continue his focused work to improve, impress and inspire.
"It's not about the flash, the glitz, the glamour is the money to fame, none of that" he said. "I'm just out here chasing a legacy that I want my kids to be able to live by and just look up, and I'm also just wanting to make my family proud every single day."
As of now, the Chicago Bears do not have a first round draft pick and are not expected to trade up for one. They have two second round picks, when the draft resumes Friday night on ABC 7.
NFL Draft 2022: Maywood native Perrion Winfrey considered top 50 prospect
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