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Packers rookie Kennard Backman honored for NFL opportunity after cloudy UAB shutdown

UAB shut down the doors on their football program after last season. Something Packers rookie Kennard Backman couldn't shake emotionally for a while.

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Most players entering the NFL Draft already have uphill battles to climb, but not many of them include their college football program getting a boot from their university after a long season.

For Packers draft pick Kennard Backman, his college -- the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) -- did so near the end of the season. Backman played tight end for the Blazers and was selected by the Packers in the sixth round of the draft at pick 213.

He spoke with the media following his selection about his journey since the program's closing, and his upcoming transition to the NFL.

What does this mean to you after what you went through last year?

It's honestly a blessing, an honor, man. Just to be in this situation, it's an honor to be able to put this on my back and move forward.

What was your best game last season?

Really, I got off in the season opener against Troy. I think just my season opener coming out with a big bang just hit all of our goals we hit as a team.

On UAB's football program closing:

I never seen so many (people) cry in one room, there was so many emotions going around. From older cats, to younger guys, to coaches, it was kind of depressing. I've been trying to think positive about it but it's been tough, I can't even lie.

What was the transition like from basketball to football:

I do believe that my basketball play has helped me. Just catching and being good with my hands kind of set me up with that.

Do you like physical part of it?

Oh yeah, I like the physicality of it. That's what makes football, football. At the NFL, the physicality is what can't be un-mastered.

How did you catch the Packers' eye:

Honestly, I'm sure a lot goes on in that draft room, and I feel like I had a good Pro Day, and then all I could do was control what I could control. I just knew ultimately the decision was up to me and I'm glad it worked out in my favor and that I'm a Packer.

How does you ability to move around at the line help you?

I think the versatility of being able to move from one side of the formation to another is going to help me a lot. Maybe that's one of the reasons that they chose me.

Did you play with a cloud over your head last season? Or was the shutdown a shock?

Around midseason we heard that it may end in the 2016 season, but not this season. There was nothing leading up to that signaling it was going to end this year.