Azle’s favorite son James Casey is headed to the Philadelphia Eagles to continue his pro football career.
On March 12, the former Hornet standout signed a three-year, $14.5 million dollar contract, with $6 million guaranteed.
Casey had become a near institution in Houston where he earned nationwide acclaim at Rice University then with the Houston Texans for his ability to play multiple positions as well as his intriguing backstory.
But he has moved on to the City of Brotherly Love.
The Eagles and new coach Chip Kelly list him as a potential tight end, but Casey’s versatility will also come into play this season.
Casey said, “I thought it was just the best case to come here and to get an opportunity to see my full potential as a player.”
Casey’s life story has been well-documented.
His mother died in a house fire while he was a student at Azle High.
The talented Casey starred in baseball and football as a Hornet and elected to chase the former dream, signing with the Chicago White Sox.
However, after several years in the baseball minor leagues, Casey returned home.
In 2007, a chance videotape viewing by a Rice coach propelled Casey – who had been offered scholastic scholarships as well when he chose baseball – into Owl history.
Known as “Thor” for his impressive physique and domination of would-be tacklers, the Casey legend began growing.
He played a variety of positions in every game – including seven against Mississippi State – and set Rice receiving records.
He left the university a star after his sophomore season – returning later to earn a triple major in economics, sports management, and managerial studies – and his illustrious status did not dim when he stayed in Houston after making the Texans pro squad in 2009.
In his first NFL game, Casey caught three passes for 29 yards.
Casey returned to Azle to teach a youth football camp that drew hundreds on a steaming July day in 2011.
Now, though, he will spend falls and winters in Philadelphia.
Coach Kelly gushed over the signing: “There’s a lot of different spots you can put him in because he’s got a background in it. He’s extremely smart and extremely intelligent.
“But his versatility is really one of the keys to us acquiring him.”
Kelly added that Casey was on their radar from the beginning of free agency.
Casey is ready to enter an NFC division that includes the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and Washington Redskins.
Choosing the Eagles wasn’t hard, Casey said, “It was actually kind of a pretty easy decision for me. I think [it’s] the best place for me to be able to showcase what I can do.”
What that could involve is a new, two tight end defense the Eagles are considering. Plus, Kelly is fond of an H-back or “joker” and Casey fits that bill perfectly.
Casey, 28, is listed as 6-4, 240 pounds. He is married to Kylie with one son.
The Miami Dolphins had also shown interest in him before his commitment to Philadelphia.
A chance to see Casey in Arlington when the Cowboys host the Eagles comes this fall/winter; however, NFL schedules will not be set until April
Until then, local fans can keep track of the former Hornet via Twitter (@jamescasey86); at Facebook (James “THOR” Casey), or at his web site jamescasey.net.