Fordham tight end Phazahn Odom hurdles a defender. (Getty Images)
Fordham product Phazahn Odom could not pick up an NFL football because it did not have white stripes like an NCAA football. (Photo: Getty Images)
MARTINSVILLE, N.J. – It was his first day of training for the NFL draft and Phazahn Odom was confused. It was the afternoon session and Odom was running routes and he was dropping passes. It was more than routine and he was downright concerned.
These were a lot of drops for the Fordham tight end, one of the best at his position last year in the FCS.
Over a 45-minute span, Odom had dropped roughly 10 passes, double if not triple what would be expected during that time. He was frustrated, perplexed at what was happening. What made it even more frustrating is that he was working out with Jordan Powell, a fellow tight end who was a standout at New Hampshire and wasn't dropping many passes. The two were doing their pre-NFL draft training at Test Football Academy in central New Jersey and this was not the start to the training process he had envisioned. 
Geir Gudmundsen, the director of football pperations at Test, asked what was up and all Odom could respond with was that “the ball wasn’t clear.” They scheduled a doctor’s visit the next day.
Turns out that Odom was badly in need of corrective help for his eyesight.
“In college, I always tracked the white stripe on the college ball. I just thought it was like that for everyone,” Odom told Metro. “I knew I had vision issues dating back to middle school when I used to wear glasses. But I didn’t know this was an issue and that it was really different until I tried catching the NFL ball.”
A ball that, coincidentally, doesn’t have a stripe on it like the NCAA-approved ball. So Odom had nothing to track; he was essentially trying to pursue a blur.
He went to an optometrist the next day and got a prescription for contacts and eyeglasses. Two days later he was out running routes again taking passes with Gudmundsen — “I don’t think I dropped anything. I could see the detail of the ball as it came at me.”
He now has 20/20 vision and has recently lined up local workouts with the New York Giants and New York Jets.
Talk about seeing his NFL future clearly.
Without glasses, it is not a big surprise that Odom said he struggled the most in night games where tracking the white stripes on the ball was more of a challenge. Last season he had 14 receptions for 192 yards and two touchdowns, but one has to wonder what his production could have been with 20/20 vision.
He might not have lost the ball in night games or even the country kid from a small town in South Carolina wouldn’t have gotten lost so easily in New York City.
“Let’s say I’m not sure where to go, I’m on 13th Street and I have to assume that one block over is 14th Street,” Odom said. “Now I don’t have to assume. With glasses, I can see the street sign when I’m getting towards the end of the block and not just right there. It’s definitely changed my life.”
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