Belle Glade native seeks shot at NFL dream, awaits call from team after career at Bowling Green State

'Never quit, if you just dream and you have faith and you work you can achieve anything it is,' Odieu Hilaire says
Posted at 11:38 PM, Apr 26, 2024

BELLE GLADE, Fla. — The NFL draft is underway, and one South Florida football player with roots in Belle Glade is hoping for his shot to go pro.

Odieu Hilaire, a 2024 draft prospect, said it's his dream to play in the NFL.

"Only 1% makes it to the NFL," Hilaire said. "Your whole attention span has to be on that goal. That's how big it is."

The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is a moment he's been waiting for since he was a child.

Odieu Hilaire says his dreams of playing in the NFL started at an early age.
Odieu Hilaire says his dreams of playing in the NFL started at an early age.

"It means everything to me," Hilaire said. "It's something I've worked for my whole life, blood, sweat, tears really."

He said he learned that work ethic from his family, who sacrificed everything when they left Haiti and moved to Belle Glade.

Hilaire said his family worked in the agriculture industry to raise him and his six siblings.

"My parents always told me, 'You have to go to school, take school seriously cause you don't want to work in the field,'" Hilaire said. "'Just go to school, get your education that way you don't have to work jobs like this,' so that's something that stuck with me."

During the summers, he said they'd move to different cities to work at other farms, but Belle Glade was home.

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"Being Haitian and being from Belle Glade is what makes me who I am," Hilaire said. "The things you see at an early age, you have to be a lot faster than other kids. You have to be a lot tougher than other kids."

Hilaire said he attended Pioneer Park Elementary and Lake Shore Middle School before graduating from Glades Central High School.

His passion led him to play wide receiver for Alabama A&M and Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

According to their website, Hilaire became the 31st Falcon to record 100+ career receptions and 1,000+ career receiving yards at BGSU.

"What message do you hope your story has on future generations?" asked WPTV reporter Joel Lopez.

"Never quit, if you just dream and you have faith and you work you can achieve anything it is," Hilaire said.

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He said two of his older siblings are also athletes, and thanks them for getting him on the football field when he was 8 years old.

He's now waiting on a phone call telling him he's been selected to play in the NFL.

"My phone is going to be on," Hilaire said. "I'm going to be up early. My ringer is going to be on. My ringer is never on. ... I have my phone on me in my hand."

He said his family has been helping him stay calm during the process, and he hopes to support if he goes pro.

"I really plan to take care of my family first of course," Hilaire said. "If I make it big, lord willing, of course, I'll be giving back as much as I can."

Hilaire said he doesn't plan to have a watch party and will be at home with his immediate family, waiting for an NFL team to call.

"I'm ready for whatever team, any team," Hilaire said.