When the 2015 NFL season kicks off at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Thursday evening, all eyes will be on Tom Brady. But the New England Patriots quarterback’s eyes will be looking downfield for an open receiver, confident that the offensive linemen sworn to protect him in the pocket have his back.
One of those Brady guardians is Global Football alum Sebastian Vollmer, the starting right tackle from Dusseldorf, Germany.
Every Thursday, the new look website GlobalFootball.com will celebrate the successes of some of the athletes and coaches who have at some point crossed paths with Global Football during the past twenty years of organizing and producing games and events in 23 countries on six continents.
Vollmer starred in 2002 on the offensive line for Team Europe, a junior all-star squad that represented the continent against the Under-19 national teams of Canada, Mexico and Japan, and a Team USA drawn that year from high school seniors in the Super Bowl host city of San Diego. The NFL Global Junior Championship that served that year as a platform for Vollmer to further impress college scouts who had learned of his potential, ran from 1997 through 2007, played the week prior to the NFL showpiece in the host city.
“It’s been 13 years since that Global Junior Championship,” said Vollmer when speaking to reporters prior to the Patriots’ Super Bowl win over Seattle in Arizona earlier this year. “I do remember the tournament. It was great. It was a great experience.
“I never pictured, never dreamed of being in the Super Bowl for a second time. Yeah, it’s been an amazing ride. That’s all I can say. I’m truly amazed at what has happened to me.”
Vollmer will stand on the Gillette Stadium sideline on Thursday evening watching his team unveil the Super Bowl XLIX championship banner, his development from raw youngster to established NFL starter complete.
Steve McCusker, who coaches with the East Kilbride Pirates in Scotland, was Vollmer’s Team Europe position coach.
“He was the best athlete we had by far,” remembers McCusker. “He was big and ox-strong and had that glean in his eye and that aggressive streak that you really like. He was big and athletic, moved his feet and really annoyed the heck out of the defense.
“We had a couple of weekend camps and 10 days of practice at the tournament so I coached him for about 20 days and he was a joy to coach. He probably only understood half of what was said because of the language barrier, but he knew what was expected of him.
“You could tell that if he got a couple of breaks he would do well. We scouted him in 2000 at the European Junior Championship in Berlin and a regional tournament before that and invited him to camp with Team Europe. As soon as you saw him mash people all over the place you knew he was a natural tackle for sure.”
By the following summer, Vollmer had committed to the University of Houston, but took time to make his mark as another former Team Europe coach Jeff Reiebold, now of the Hamilton Tiger Cats in the CFL explains.
“I went back his freshman year and they said he was a great kid but he was so far behind,” said Reinebold. “They tried him at tight end and defensive line, but he just needed time. He played against us when I was coaching at SMU and that’s when I knew he was going to make it.”
Vollmer progressed from his first steps on the gridiron in Dusseldorf via the NFL Global Junior Championship, Team Europe and college football to the 2009 NFL Draft where he was considered a surprise selection as high as he went in the second round, 58th overall.
“I think I took an unusual path to get here, I wasn’t really expecting that,” said Vollmer. “I feel like everyone has a chance. I mean, I don’t think I’m any different than any other young athlete. So, I’d say if that’s your dream keep on doing it and it might just work.”