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Emerald High alum and former Clemson offensive lineman Gage Cervenka smiles on the sideline during a game his senior season.

After more than a year of uncertainty about his NFL future, Gage Cervenka was ready to join the real estate industry.

The Emerald High alum went undrafted last season after wrapping up his standout career at Clemson, and he wrestled with the idea of moving on from football.

But Cervenka’s strong showing at Clemson’s Pro Day last month ultimately helped him land the opportunity he’s been searching for the last two NFL drafts.

Cervenka is getting his shot in the league after signing on Sunday with the Chicago Bears.

“It was a rollercoaster of a year trying to pursue football and just not hearing anything, and I had to decide what I needed to do in terms of a career,” Cervenka said. “It’s been some ups and downs, and I had the mindset of moving on.

“I’ve been working on getting into real estate, but I had an opportunity to do some workouts, and I’m just very blessed and honored to have this opportunity to play for the Bears. It’s been an amazing week, and I’m just looking forward to getting up there and working.”

Cervenka, who played mostly at guard during his time at Clemson, made his mark as one of the strongest players in program history. He set Clemson’s position record for bench press reps at 225 pounds (44).

He emerged as a starter at right guard in the 2018 season after playing 10 games at center in 2017. In his final season, Cervenka was named a second-team All-ACC selection.

Still, after going undrafted last year, Cervenka didn’t know whether he’d get a chance to play at the next level.

Cervenka said the year off from football deepened his passion for the game.

“It definitely helps me with motivation because it changed my outlook on everything,” Cervenka said. “When you’re playing and practicing every single day for five years, it’s easy to start taking every little thing for granted. Being out for a year changed my perspective and really helped me fall in love with the game again. Everything means more now that I was out for so long.”

Cervenka has slimmed down from his playing weight at Clemson, going from 330 pounds to 310. He said the weight loss has helped him become quicker and more explosive, which caught the Bears’ interest.

He said he’ll be preparing to see time at center and guard during the Bears’ rookie minicamp.

“Just being able to show them that I can still play the game in front of them during the pro day, I think that really helped me out,” Cervenka said. “Getting this opportunity is amazing because it’s something I’ve wanted since I was a little kid. I’m just glad I have an opportunity.”

And as for real estate, Cervenka said he won’t be giving up on that career path yet either.

“I’ve been doing everything online and am still planning on finishing up and getting my license,” Cervenka said. “Who knows, maybe I’ll also be able to sell some real estate in the offseason.”

Contact sports writer Wesley Dotson at 864-943-2530 or follow him on Twitter @WesleyPDotson.