Brian Poole’s road to the NFL was developed in Manatee County at Southeast High and in Gainesville at the University of Florida.
Poole, though, was overlooked when the 2016 NFL Draft rolled around.
The Atlanta Falcons, however, signed Poole as an undrafted free agent and he quickly asserted himself as a contributor to Atlanta’s defense.
Poole became a regular fixture for Atlanta in the Falcons’ path to last year’s Super Bowl, which doubled as Poole’s rookie season.
Now in his second NFL season, Poole drew praise during Atlanta’s road playoff victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday.
In the NBC broadcast, analyst Chris Collinsworth commented how good Poole was making tackles all game. That included a first-quarter tackle on Rams running back Todd Gurley to set the tone for Atlanta’s defense.
The explosive Gurley did tally 101 rushing yards on 14 carries, but 33 of those yards came on one play in the fourth quarter.
Poole, who finished with four tackles, tied for the third-most tackles on the team in a win over the NFL’s highest-scoring offense.
Now the sixth-seeded Falcons head to Philadelphia, where Poole battles a fellow 941 representative in Eagles tight end Trey Burton, who starred at Venice High.
Like Poole, Burton is a former Florida Gator. Burton’s played in 15 games this season, starting one, and has 23 catches for 248 yards with five touchdowns.
Braden River High alum Sharrod Neasman also played for Atlanta in the win over the Rams, but the defensive back did not record any stats.
Atlanta plays at Philly on Saturday.
Here are some other Hometown Heroes:
The Lakewood Ranch High graduate is playing as a true freshman for South Carolina’s women’s basketball team. Williams is averaging 1.8 points and 1.6 rebounds off an average of 7.4 minutes per game this season. She’s played in 12 games for the 13-2 Gamecocks, who are ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press rankings.
After suffering an injury late in last year’s basketball season that hindered Lakewood Ranch’s chances at a state championship, Green signed with Daytona State College and has cracked some playing time in the Falcons’ most recent games. Green played four minutes in a Dec. 29 game against Humber College, before playing 16 minutes against St. Pete College on Jan. 3 and 16 minutes against St. Louis Community College on Jan. 5. She’s scored 13 points in total between the three games.
Another Lakewood Ranch High alumnus playing college basketball, Robinson is averaging 1.4 points per game in 17 games for Daytona State College this season.