De La Salle selects ... Kandakai Sherman to participate in NFL Draft announcement

De La Salle High School senior Kandakai Sherman will be among local high school athletes on stage during this week's NFL Draft in downtown Detroit. Sherman was selected to hand one of the draftees — he doesn't know which one yet — their hat or jersey during their on-stage selection. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Samartino)

Local Catholic high school senior picked from among local athletes to hand draftee their hat or jersey on Campus Martius stage

WARREN — It’s been a good year for De La Salle High School senior Kandakai Sherman: Not only is he a football commit headed to Cornell University this fall, but this week he will also have a role in the 2024 NFL Draft in downtown Detroit.

Sherman was chosen to be part of the New Era Hand the Cap and Nike Jersey Run, an opportunity for high school student-athletes to hand NFL prospects their hat for the team they are drafted by and/or run the player’s jersey to the commissioner or representative for the on-stage announcement.

When De La Salle football coach Dan Rohn called Sherman down to his office, “I thought I was in trouble,” Sherman said and laughed. “Coach Rohn texted me to see him — and he used an exclamation point — so I thought it was something I did.”

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The all-state athlete and two-year starter went to see Rohn, where he was asked whether he’d like to participate in the NFL's first-round draft experience. Sherman’s reaction was one of complete surprise and total joy. “I thought, ‘Wow, of all the students you picked, you picked me,'” he said. “I am super grateful.”

The world will be able to see Sherman represent the purple and gold in his De La Salle football jersey as he walks across the stage at the Draft Theater in Campus Martius Park. It’s a pretty big deal — last year, the draft had an audience of more than 55 million people who watched the big event.

Rohn called Sherman an all-around role model.

“Kandakai represents everything we expect and demand from our student-athletes at DLS," Rohn said. “He is dedicated, hardworking, and committed to the classroom and athletics programs that he has participated in throughout his four years at DLS.”

It’s because of characteristics like these, Rohn added, that Sherman’s “hard work and commitment to being a student-athlete have helped earn him the opportunity to an Ivy League scholarship at Cornell. I am excited for him and this incredible opportunity to participate in the draft.”

Sherman said his parents, Kandakai and Sonnie, were also thrilled for him.

“My dad was super happy,” Sherman said. “He said this can be like his preview ... I can’t even describe it. It’s going to be a great experience seeing people in shoes that I can see myself in in a few years. It’s what I want to do.”

Sherman plans to study global development at Cornell, a private Ivy League School in Ithaca, N.Y. With his major, he will learn about agriculture, life science, and leadership skills, “just a whole lot, and with my family being from Liberia, it’s a good major to have and I can use what I learn to help out over there.”

With graduation just around the corner, he said he’ll miss his days at De La Salle. He will also miss playing football with his classmates, but football was not always a passion for Sherman.

“My sophomore year I didn’t want to play football,” he recalled. “My focus was on basketball.”

Fortunately, he said his De La Salle football coaches saw it differently. “They said they could see so much potential in me and that I could even play college football. They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself,” he said.

Sherman has great memories already of his four years at De La Salle.

“I will always remember the upperclassmen who set an example for me,” specifically Will Beesley, who graduated in 2022. Beesley, who plays football at fellow Ivy League school Princeton University, also reached out to support and congratulate Sherman on his commitment to Cornell.

Next week’s draft experience for Sherman will also include a first-hand look at the entire NFL Draft production. And although he doesn’t know which player he will be assigned to, Sherman grinned when he said does have someone in mind: “It’d be pretty cool to give a hat to (former Ohio State wide receiver) Marvin Harrison Jr.”

Don’t miss out on seeing Sherman who will get to wear a De La Salle jersey one last time: He is set to appear between 7 p.m. and midnight on Thursday, April 25.

“Yeah, I’m really excited,” Sherman said. “This is life-changing.”


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