He was born on November 12, 1988 and graduated from Geneva (IL) High. As a redshirt freshman at Northern Illinois, he appeared in 13 games, recording 24 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, and 1 interception. He started 13 games at middle linebacker during his sophomore year, and finished with 82 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 0.5 sacks, 1 pass defended, and 1 forced fumble. He missed the following spring due to a knee injury that also cost him the first 4 games of the season and his starting job. He did make 10 appearances in reserve, recording 18 tackles, 2 for loss, and 2 forced fumbles on the year. He regained his starting position as a senior, starting all 14 games and leading the team with 115 tackles and 10 tackles for loss. He also added 2 sacks and 6 pass breakups on the year. He was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Atlanta Falcons in 2012.
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Signed by Atlanta Falcons on April 30, 2012 ... Cut by Falcons on August 31, 2012 ... Re-signed to Falcons practice squad on September 2, 2012 ... Re-signed by Falcons on January 21, 2013.
Signed a three-year deal with base salaries of: $390,000 (2012); $480,000 (2013); and $570,000 (2014).