Kendall Fuller didn't care that he was the youngest of his four brothers. Even at the tender age of 11, losing to siblings who were all teenagers or in their early 20's — was unacceptable.
Fuller accomplished more than enough on the field at Virginia Tech, also the alma mater of brothers Vincent, Corey and Kyle, to put him in line to continue the family tradition of being selected in the NFL Draft.
It took a memorable marathon session with a Nintendo Wii game console a decade ago for Kendall to prove he wasn't going to be a pushover, no matter what the competition entailed.
Around Thanksgiving in 2006, Vincent invited his family out to his place in Nashville, Tenn. to celebrate the holidays for a few days. Vincent was in his second year playing special teams and safety with the Tennessee Titans, who chose him in the fourth round of the '05 draft.
A spirited evening of video game bowling kept the brothers occupied, but it left Kendall feeling unfulfilled. He routinely got crushed by Vincent, Corey and Kyle, but Kendall wasn't having it for long.
"I don't think I went to sleep that night," said Kendall, a 6-foot, 196-pound cornerback from Baltimore, Md. who opted to forgo his final season of eligibility at Tech to enter the draft.
Waking up the next morning, Vincent walked into his living room to discover a bleary-eyed Kendall still gripping a Wii controller in his hand. Kendall was ready for a rematch.
"He just didn't like where he finished that first night," Vincent said. "Literally, when I got up in the morning, I don't know if he'd slept, but I know he was up playing that bowling game early in the morning. It got to the point where he was coming at us saying, 'Come on. Play me now.'
Kendall proved to be a quick learner.
"He proceeded to whip up on all of us 24 hours after where we'd left off the night before in that bowling game," said Vincent, who is now 33 years old and finishing up his second year of law school at Fordham University in New York. "Right then, I didn't know if he did it out of desire, but he was obviously going to do what it takes to make it happen. That's still something we talk about all the time."
Video game bowling is one thing. Making his mark in the NFL will require an entirely separate level of resolve. Kendall, 21, has already been faced with one significant obstacle on his recent path to the league.
Coming into last season at Tech, Kendall, who will find out where he's going in the draft Thursday, Friday or Saturday, was considered by most pundits a strong first team All-America candidate. He'd finished his sophomore season with an ACC-best 17 passes defended, while playing all season with a fractured wrist. He earned first team All-ACC distinction and second team All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America and the Walter Camp Football Foundation.
His junior year ended abruptly in September after just three games when he was sidelined with what was first diagnosed as a torn meniscus in his right knee. Surgery by renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews on Sept. 29 revealed a more extensive injury that required microfracture surgery and longer rehabilitation.
"It was alarming," Kendall said, adding he returned to full health this month. "Going into it, we thought I was going to get (arthroscopic surgery). Then, once I got out of the surgery, I found out he'd performed the microfracture (surgery). After that, it was just focusing on getting my rehab done and working hard.
"Learning from the injury this past year, I wouldn't go on the field unless I could ball at 100 percent. Once you're on the field, you aren't thinking about the injury anymore."
Injury concerns contributed to him falling from first-round consideration to being looked upon as an early-to-mid-second round pick, which is where many draft analysts have him pegged this week. Despite the slight dip in Kendall's stock, there are no doubts regarding his coverage skills.
"If you're looking for second-round corners, Kendall Fuller could be the steal of the draft," said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, who has Fuller rated the No. 53 prospect on his latest "Big Board" draft ratings. "He had the knee injury early on (last season), tried to play in September. In the Ohio State game, he was beaten by Michael Thomas (for a 26-yard touchdown). That wouldn't have happened if he was healthy. He had a great 2014 campaign. I just saw him working out and it looks like he's back to 100 percent. If you can get him in the second round, it would be a great pick."
Following in the footsteps of brothers, who have all gained multiple seasons of NFL experience, has served as another motivator.
In addition to Vincent, who was in the NFL for seven seasons, Corey, 25, is entering his fourth season as a wide receiver with the Detroit Lions, who drafted him in the sixth round of the '13 draft. Kyle, 24, is heading into his third season as a cornerback with the Chicago Bears, who took him 14th overall in the first round of the '14 draft.
"Our goal when we were younger was just getting there," said Kendall, who in February attended the NFL combine. "Just seeing the success they had, seeing them get to that level no matter where you end up (in the draft), it just kind of pushed me and made me work harder to try to get to where they ended up."
Having a built-in sounding board for what to expect on draft night and in training camp gives Kendall a bit of an edge. Just by osmosis, Kendall has picked up a lot on how some of his rookie experience will unfold.
"We've all been there," Vincent said. "We've all had different paths and we've all been in the league in some kind of capacity. If there's something he wants to know, he'll ask that question…but we've all kind of pitched in and provided different parts of our experiences to where I think Kendall is comfortable in any kind of environment.
"When you're competing in anything, whether it be Nintendo Wii or who can get up the stairs the fastest, he always desired to be just as good as his brothers. I think even as a young kid, that desire to want to be good and want to be the best was ingrained where it was almost an expectation."
With agent Greg Barnett on board, Kendall has the advantage of one more element that should be fairly familiar. Barnett also represents Corey and Kyle. Though the pre-draft process is over, Kendall's chance to show he can make an impact in the NFL is just beginning.
He's already had a good headstart on knowing what kind of tenacity it'll require.
"I've just been waiting for this time a long time," Kendall said. "As the days go on, you count down the days and count down the months and realize how soon it is. It's here now and I can't wait."
Wood can be reached by phone at 757-247-4642.