The journey of John Cominsky from Division II college football to the NFL has been nothing short of extraordinary. The defensive lineman signed an $18.5 million contract with the Detroit Lions on Wednesday, wearing a black T-shirt with the words: “One year of focus and hustle can change your life forever.” The shirt, given to him by his agent last year, has become a symbol of Cominsky’s perseverance and hard work.
“I hope it’s a testimony to anyone that they can put their head down for 365 days and know that their life can change,” Cominsky said.
Tough Road to NFL Riches
Cominsky’s path to success was far from easy. He began as a highly regarded option quarterback in high school, but chose to attend the University of Charleston, a small Division II school in West Virginia, to transition to the defensive line. Cominksy gained 70 pounds and became one of the best D-II players in the country. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Atlanta Falcons in 2019.
However, Cominsky’s time in Atlanta was challenging, as he spent three years mostly on the bench, starting just one game and recording only 1.5 sacks. In 2021, he appeared in merely four games, and in 2022, he was cut before training camp began.
Detroit’s Turning Point
Cominsky’s fortunes changed dramatically when the Detroit Lions claimed him off waivers. He quickly impressed the coaching staff during training camp, made the opening-day roster, and contributed significantly to the team’s defensive performance. Head coach Dan Campbell praised Cominsky for his intelligence, high motor, and aggressive play.
Recognizing his importance, the Lions rewarded John Cominsky with a two-year, $18.5 million contract in free agency. Cominsky now has a different type of motivation: proving to the organization, fans, and himself that he’s worth every penny of his contract.
The Power of Culture
When asked about his sudden success in Detroit, Cominsky attributed it to the team’s culture. He described the family-like atmosphere and transparency as key factors in helping him thrive on the field.
Cominsky faced a difficult decision during free agency, considering offers from other teams while wanting to return to Detroit. A text message from Coach Campbell ultimately tipped the scales in the Lions’ favor.
“Dying to have you here,” Campbell texted Cominsky, who responded, “That’s it, I’m going to Detroit.” The simple text message from the head coach reaffirmed Cominsky’s belief that Detroit was the right place for him and his family.