A two-sport star at Chatsworth High School (Calif.)
, Cassel had his choice of colleges at which to play either baseball or football. Rather than enrolling at a smaller program where playing time was all-but guaranteed, Cassel chose to play football at national powerhouse USC.
After redshirting as a freshman in 2000, he was buried on the depth chart behind Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, and Cassel graduated in 2005 having never started a college game.
Despite not earning much playing time at USC, Cassel's skills were apparent to the New England Patriots, who drafted him in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL draft. There he found himself behind star quarterback Tom Brady, one of the best to ever play the position.
Cassel finally received his opportunity during Week 1 of the 2008 season, when Brady was lost for the season after suffering a devastating knee injury. Cassel, having not started a game since high school, took over to lead the Patriots to an 11-5 regular season. That offseason the Patriots signed Cassel to a large contract, and eventually traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs who made him their starting quarterback.
Cassel has become a dependable game manager, and made the Pro Bowl in 2010. You can catch him and his Kansas City Chiefs in action tonight against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football.
See where Cassel's long, strange journey began in the video below.
Quarterback Matt Cassel's ascent to starting in the NFL has been anything but typical.