ByLyndsey Gough|April 25, 2020 at 11:56 PM EDT - Updated April 25 at 11:57 PM
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - With sports put on hold amid the coronavirus, football fans showed up for this year’s NFL draft. The opening night saw the highest numbers the draft has ever had, 15.6 million viewers tuned in.
Football players across the country waited in their living rooms, hoping to see their names come across the TV screen. It happens for less than 300 players each year, but two in the 2020 draft came out of Georgia Southern University.
It was a draft unlike any other, amid a global pandemic, teams drafting from their homes virtually for the first time. For Georgia Southern cornerback Kindle Vildor, it didn’t matter. His name was called in the 5th round at pick number 163.
“He [Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy] was just like ‘you ready to be a Bear?’ and I was like ‘yeah’. He was like ‘congratulations man, get ready to see your name across the board,’ so after that, I was just looking and then boom, everything happened.”
Surrounded by family at his home in Atlanta, Vildor’s mother was overcome with emotion.
“Everyone was just so excited for me. I just feel like they made it too, because most everyone has been with me throughout the struggle. They’ve seen me grinding my way to the top at Georgia Southern,” Vildor said.
The Eagles were one of the last teams in the country to hold a pro day before the NFL shut down. Vildor said he was able to work out for the Bears in person, but most of his team meetings were virtual.
Vildor was a two-time first-team All-Sun Belt selection and was named an All-American in 2018 by Pro Football Focus. For his career, he had 95 tackles, 24 pass break ups and 10 interceptions.
“In Kindle Vildor, a team is going to get a guy who’s a technician, a guy who takes a lot of pride in his craft and what he does at the defensive back spot,” said Georgia Southern head coach Chad Lunsford in a statement emailed out. “He is a worker; he is a guy that grinds every day. He loves ball and he’s a guy that’s going to give you that G.A.T.A. mentality each and every time he goes out there. THE Chicago Bears are getting a great Georgia Southern Man.”
Locally, Saturday was a big day. Vildor’s teammate, former Georgia Southern kicker Tyler Bass was picked up in the next round by the Buffalo Bills at pick 188.
Bass was a two-time All-Sun Belt selection and was named an All-American in 2019 by Chris Sailer Kicking. Bass made 114 point-after-attempts, and 54 field goals in his career with a long of 50 yards. As a senior, he set a new school record with 20 made field goals.
“In Tyler Bass you’re going to get a guy that’s obviously a hard worker, who loves what he does and is clutch,” Lunsford added. “He’s a guy that is ready for every moment and he’s a guy you can send out there whether it’s the last kick of the game or the first kick of the game and he treats it the same.Tyler is a very focused individual who is mentally strong and is very confident in what he does.”
Fellow Eagle, and former Savannah State stand-out safety Donald Rutledge Jr. went on to ink a free agency deal with the Indianapolis Colts.
Round 4 pick 144 former Glynn Academy stand-out and Miami Hurricane running back DeeJay Dallas was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks.
As for Vildor, since he can’t leave to celebrate, he’s spending time with family and friends, and will get back to training on Monday. He said he was told rookie meetings will happen virtually until they get a report date.
Photo: Getty Images