TE Mychal Rivera makes a catch during rookie mini-camp. Photo by Tony Gonzales
The Oakland Raiders drafted TE Mychal Rivera out of the University of Tennessee in the 6th round of the 2013 NFL Draft. The pass-catching tight end recorded 1,018 receiving yards and six touchdowns over three seasons as a Volunteer and was named to the 2012 Coaches and CBSSports.com All-SEC Team and 2012 All-SEC Second Team.
The Southern California-native participated in his first mini-camp as a Raider this past weekend and is looking forward to transferring his college success to the professional level. "It felt awesome," said Rivera on the rookie mini-camp. "My whole life I dreamed of being in the NFL and being able to compete at this level with all these great players. I'm 22 years old and I find myself in an NFL jersey doing the same stuff I was looking up to, so I'm just really happy."
Rivera has joined one of the teams he followed when he was a kid. "I did follow the Raiders when I was young and I followed all the California teams," said Rivera. "It's just awesome to stay in California and stay on the West Coast. I hope I'm here forever."
He is excited to be playing close to his family, who has always been there to support him. "They've always supported me throughout my whole career," said Rivera. "Throughout my ups and downs, they've always been there. Naya [Rivera's older sister] has shown me a lot as far as her going on interviews and them saying, 'No,' and just bouncing right back up and continuing to be persistent and following your dreams."
Rivera has already started his NFL career with a deep fan base, which he attributes to his famous older sister. "Naya, she's on the FOX show Glee and she has millions and millions of fans, so some of her fans trickled down to me as the athlete in the family," said Rivera. "They follow me. Also just Tennessee fans and other football fans just love me as a tight end."
Rivera appreciates the support. "First, I love all the fans," said Rivera. "I love all the support and the people that support me and my family. A lot of people, they really support my family."
The rookie wants to continue to earn that support during his new NFL career and thinks his first practices on the field were a good start. "It went well," said Rivera. "I caught a lot of balls, learned a lot of new schemes in the offense, and just getting used to things."
Rivera now has the task of getting to know all of the veterans, but has found all of his new teammates welcoming. "I'm still in the process of meeting all the veterans, but the ones I've met so far, they've all welcomed me with open arms," said Rivera. "They're all really cool guys and they're just all here to really work hard and try to get a Championship here."
Rivera wants Raider Nation to know, "They have a hard worker that wants to help out the team as much as possible and a guy that loves to win."
Make sure to follow Rivera on Twitter: @MychalRivera