(INDIO) – Celebrated ‘Undrafted’ star and West Alabama wide receiver Chad Toocheck, a blue-collar free-agent who in fall 2015 attracted a worldwide following on his climb to a heartbreaking final cut on the NFL Network reality series, then fought and won a bout with cancer, signed today with the four-time champion SoCal Coyotes after being miraculously cleared to play again by doctors.

The standout receiver said mChad-300onths of soul-searching led to his decision, and he ultimately chose America’s #1 Developmental Pro Football Program because of the options available through the Coyotes powerful ‘faith, family and football’ leadership platforms, specifically a stage to share his life story of amazing grace.

The NFL Network introduced the world to Toocheck, 6-3, 208, who once ran the streets and sold his blood for alcohol and drugs, and now has been sober for nearly a decade. His stunning comeback story reached a crescendo when he earned a full scholarship at West Alabama – at the ripe age of 25. He was college teammates with current Coyotes cornerback Ridge Turner, who opened the dialogue between Toocheck and SoCal head coach J David Miller last fall.

“My dream is to help kids,” Toocheck said. “I want to help people, period. That is what I am passionate about, that’s what I love, and that’s where my heart is.  I want to reach the unreachable, to share the power of hope and redemption, the understanding that a few bad choices can be overcome, and a lifetime of healing can happen. I am living proof today that God lifts average people to unimaginable heights.”

While at West Alabama, Toocheck also was teammates with 2015 Super Bowl champion and New England Patriot Malcolm Butler, and the pair became close through their separate journeys. After Toocheck was overlooked by all 32 NFL teams in the draft, the NFL Network took notice of his gut-wrenching story, and millions of viewers were touched by his faith, honesty and perseverance.

“Serving God, at this point in my life, is my greatest pursuit,” said Toocheck, who is relocating to the Coachella Valley from his home in Medina, Ohio. “When you pull back the curtain, the Coyotes are far more than just football. The challenges, and miracles, in my life can be used to help the youth of our communities and our nation. Football is a means to grow a ministry where I believe God has uniquely placed my feet.”

Toocheck’s decision was hardly overnight. He reached out to many Coyote veterans, including Turner and Utah State linebacker Cade Cowdin, who helped form his decision. “I’ve been praying for a safe place,” he said. “I was looking for a football home with people who can be trusted and the opportunity to continue my climb on the field.

“This has been a long process with Coach Miller,” Toocheck added. “At the end of the day, I firmly believe in the Coyotes commitment to the rescue of youth and the building of future generations.”

Toocheck will join his new Coyote teammates in late February – and isn’t a complete stranger to California. He played one year of junior college football at Santa Barbra City College, before transferring to West Alabama after his workout tape reached a coach at UWA.

“I had a great time at West Alabama,” Toocheck said. “It was a growing experience. Not a lot of people are blessed enough to get sober, let alone get sober and go to college.”

Toocheck’s improbable journey to the desert was even more unlikely than the Coyotes other array of top Division-1 talent, but all have a common denominator.

“Everybody here has an asterisk they’re working on,” says Coach Miller. “Even the greatest ships, without a rudder, go in circles. Amazing what Chad is doing with his life, and this is the perfect place for him to clarify and define his next steps. We’re excited to see what God has in store for Chad Toocheck.”

COYOTE LEADERSHIP INITIATIVES touch 30,000 Coachella Valley youth each year. The SoCal Coyotes non-profit sports leadership organization reaches far from the actual gridiron. Discover more at www.thesocalcoyotes.com.  Learn why the Coyotes were named ‘America’s #1 Developmental Football Program’ by The Football Educator, operated by former Denver Broncos GM and two-time Super Bowl winner Ted Sundquist, by clicking on ‘What We Do.’

ON THE FIELD, 70 PLAYERS EACH YEAR earn the distinction of ‘Defending the Shield’ in the uniform of the SoCal Coyotes. Many will earn a shot each year with NFL, CFL or AFL opportunities, or graduate into business careers. Off the field, raise funds and donate thousands of dollars annually that affect every community they touch. Coyote programs reach thousands of youth through coordinated efforts with numerous local charitable and civic organizations, including Boys & Girls Clubs, the YMCA, the Desert Strength Academy, the Boys & Girl Scouts of America, and Rotary International.

To learn more, visit www.facebook.com/thesocalcoyotes.com, or contact Ron DiGrandi, SVP Business Development, at [email protected].

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