Dax Raymond Explains How LDS Mission Prepared Him For NFL
CHICAGO, Ill. – Former Utah State tight end Dax Raymond shared his experience as a missionary in Russia in a social media video posted by his NFL team, the Chicago Bears.
In the Bears’ latest edition of “Meet the Rookies,” Raymond spoke intimately about his time as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving in Vladivostok, Russia.
Raymond was signed by the Bears to a rookie free agent deal after going undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft. He left for the draft after his junior year at Utah State.
Explaining his decision to serve, likely to an audience that may be unfamiliar with LDS missions, Raymond described the focus required by those who wear the well-known black name tags.
“On an LDS mission, you commit everything. All your concentration is on the Lord, from the second you wake up to the second you go to bed, ‘what can I do to help the people of wherever you’re serving,’ for me it was in Russia,” Raymond said.
Missions require intense focus and dedication but Raymond said he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“You wake up at 6:30 everyday, you come home by 9 and you’re in bed by 10:30 everyday and yeah, I loved every second of it,” Raymond said.
The former Aggie continued to say that he wouldn’t be where he is now, working for a roster spot in the NFL, if it weren’t for his mission.
“I think in that two years, where I was just living there and serving there, when I came home, I had a different work ethic, different mindset that really just changed me,” Raymond explained.
The mission didn’t come without challenges, explained Raymond. Gaining weight and staying in shape for his football career while on the mission was “nearly impossible,” in his words.
After the mission, Raymond sat out a year at Utah State while he got back in playing shape and built strength, especially in his back.
“That was definitely a really hard year,” said Raymond.
After that redshirt season in 2016, Raymond went to have a great career for the surging Aggies. He earned All-Mountain West Conference in both 2017 and 2018 before entering the draft. He was evaluated by some as a potential fifth or sixth round pick, but ultimately was not chosen in April.
Despite his being undrafted, Chicago is still high on Raymond’s outlook as a pro.
Bears area scout David Williams, who scouted Raymond in college, praised the former Aggie for the way he performed at Utah State.
“This is an individual who’s smart, he’s competitive and he’s versatile,” explained Williams. “Guys at Utah State, we want to see them stand out relative to the rest of their Mountain West competition. He’s a guy that he really stood out from a receiving standpoint.”
Williams’ evaluation makes sense, considering that Raymond was an All-State wide receiver at Timpview High School in 2012.
Perhaps more importantly to him than that, Raymond is a returned missionary and he credits the mission for getting him in the locker room and on the training field for the Bears.