Damarr Aultman got the phone call on Saturday, and quietly had to shush the teetering family gathered around him -- his mother, his father and his sister, all asking him what was being said on the other side of the line.
"And then my dad gave me a look," he said. "And I said, 'I'm going to be a Miami Dolphin.' "
The phone call came after all the weekend's draft picks were in, but Aultman, a Half Hollow Hills West graduate and highly touted wide receiver at the University of Maine, was given plenty of reason to hope that his uncertainty would be short-lived: For weeks before the draft, he was courted by the Dolphins, Jets and Arizona Cardinals, he said.
His free-agent contract with the Dolphins meant he boarded a plane to Florida Thursday for rookie camp, one step closer to the NFL dream he's been working on since third grade.
"My first reaction was that I was stunned," said the Wheatley Heights resident. "I feel really blessed. I've dedicated my entire life to this sport."
It's paid increasingly hard-to-ignore dividends. In his senior year with Maine's Black Bears, he played in 11 games, making 48 catches for 498 yards and two touchdowns and added 28 kick returns for 645 yards. At his Pro Day in March, Aultman, 5-11 and 202 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 and had a 401/2-inch vertical and a 10-8 broad jump, according to RotoWorld, a fantasy sports website. In his four years at Maine, he amassed 2,061 receiving yards with 18 TDs.
"I want to prove what a hard worker I am," Aultman said about his rookie camp aspirations. "I want to show them my love of the sport. When you get to this level, sometimes, that's something that's missing with some of the guys. It can be about the money or the glory, but I just love the sport."