By DAVE O’SULLIVAN

And LARRY HENRY JR.

Staff Writers

Lately, it hasn’t seemed real to former Cedar Creek High School and Rutgers University star wide receiver Bo Melton that he’s an NFL player now. Last weekend, Melton — the middle of Gary Sr. and Vicky Melton’s three football-playing sons — was drafted in the seventh round of the NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, the same team his former high school coach, Tim Watson, played for.

Things are getting a lot more real this weekend, as Melton heads to Seattle for an introductory weekend where he said he’ll likely sign a contract and familiarize himself with the organization. Melton joined his Rutgers teammate and former South Jersey high school rival Isiah Pacheco, of Vineland, in getting drafted. Pacheco, a running back at Rutgers, was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Pacheco was selected No. 251 by the Chiefs, getting the chance to play for one of the top Super Bowl contenders in recent history. The former Vineland High standout finished his collegiate career with 2,442 yards, which is the seventh-most in Rutgers history. He is also the first Rutgers running back to be selected in the NFL Draft since Jawan Jamison in 2013.

Melton selected by the Seahawks with the No. 229 pick. The 5-foot-11 wideout registered 55 receptions for 618 yards and three touchdowns during his senior 2021 season in Piscataway. Melton finished his collegiate career with 184 receptions, 2,011 receiving yards, 165 rushing yards and 13 offensive touchdowns. He could also fight for opportunities on special teams as a kick or punt returner with Seattle.

Former Cedar Creek star and recent NFL Draft pick Bo Melton meets with members of his former high school’s football team earlier this week. (South Jersey Glory Days photo/Sully)

Remembering his roots has always been important for Melton, and he made sure to stop by some of the area middle schools and Cedar Creek High earlier this week to thank teachers and coaches before he flew out to Seattle on Thursday.

“We knew he was going to be a very special football player, but we didn’t know that he would do this. There are a lot of special football players who have come through these doors who aren’t in the same spot he’s at. It takes a lot of things to go right, it takes some luck, it takes some blessings, and it takes an extremely disciplined work ethic, which he’s always had,” said Watson, the former Cedar Creek head football coach who still teaches at the school. “But it also takes a joy, and that’s the thing I think — if there’s one thing guys can learn from Bo, it’s that he always played with a joy in his heart. Everywhere he went, he was happy. He made his teammates happy. He was always singing and dancing.”

“Play with joy. Everywhere Bo went, he had this huge, infectious spirit that lifted up his brothers. He was never out there complaining,” Watson continued. “If there’s one thing that this kid embodied more than anybody I’ve ever seen in my life is approaching life — not just football — but approaching life with joy. I’m really proud of (Bo). It was great to see that happen.”

“I’m just very, very happy. Not only for me, but for my family. Getting a chance to see them crying (at our Draft party) was an amazing moment. I can’t wait to get out to Seattle and get to work,” said Melton, who became the first player from Cedar Creek High drafted into the NFL.

Melton said it was very important to him to come back to his high school and address the current players and students because of the impact Cedar Creek had on him.

“I always said I’ll always be myself, and if I ever got this opportunity I was always going to come back, give back, and talk to the youth about it. I was one of them at one time and I grew up wanting to do this. For me to now be this type of figure, I always want to give back to the community,” Melton said. “This is a blessing. My mom is a Seahawks fan, through and through. And coach Watson was with the Seahawks, so it’s all come full circle, when you think about it. It’s a surreal moment.

“I grew up in Egg Harbor City and playing for the Crusaders was a long time ago, but it was fun. My uncle was coaching me, my dad was coaching me, and growing up getting coached by family was a big thing,” he added. “The NFL always was a dream of mine. It still hasn’t hit me yet that I’m on the Seahawks. When I get out there and put the helmet on, put the pads on, I’ll feel more comfortable. But right now, the moment is surreal.”

Follow Dave O’Sullivan on Twitter @GDsullysays; follow Larry Henry Jr. on Twitter @lhenry019