With the season coming to a close, it has now been more than a month into off-season... and what a change of life! Going from the most hectic time in my life the entire 2013 to now in my first off-season where I'm basically on my own to keep in shape and prepare for next season. The first thing I did was take two weeks off! This has been the most rest I have had since I began school organized sports in Junior High. The rotation of sports along with summer leagues in jr high through high school and the intensity of college football brings mental and physical challenges nonstop. My body definitely needed the rest and recovery but with the help of being snowed in, the apartment walls were beginning to close in on me very quickly. I have chosen to stay in St Louis and train at the facility which hopefully I can be around the coaches and learn while I stay in shape. With workout taking up my mornings I have been able to fill my afternoon with various things that I have either been putting off or always wanted to do. I have been doing charity work, researching charities to get involved with, working on side projects like MotoMe, organizing a possible football camp, and if all else fails dive into some of my hobbies. I'm extremely blessed to have this time to focus on myself to renew my mind and rebuild what I want my life to be about. Along with this renewed focus I am going to redesign and rebuild this website to be more interactive/informative on not only football but other aspects of life, hopefully improving on what I have started. If you have any ideas or suggestions on what you would like more/less or anything to add, please share them below or message me on Facebook or Twitter! Until next time, enjoy this video of my dog running in the snow with the GoPro 3.
The new year is here and looking back on twenty thirteen... what a wild ride it was! This year has been crammed full of exciting changes, new beginnings, and stressful moments. On January 1st 2013 I started my training for the NFL and now on January 1st 2014 I have wrapped up my rookie season. If you have missed my journey this year... it has pretty much gone like this: NFL training, regional combines, pro day, getting married, super regional combine, honeymoon, undrafted free agent signed to St Louis, OTAs, off season workouts, training camp, preseason games, cut after preseason, signed on practice squad, moved from Texas to St. Louis, moved up to active roster week 5, and played/secured my spot on all four special teams to finish the year. Phew! Now you might understand and forgive me for inconsistent blogging and taking a couple of weeks off after the season, I apologize!
Between now and then I have learned a lot and have grown as both a football player and a man of God. The biggest thing I learned in year one is to not focus on or worry about things you can't control. There are so many new distractions that are thrown at you as a NFL rookie and most of it doesn't have to do with your actions. Starting with the hype or lack of hype coming out of college, you get judged and graded for 8 months before you even get a chance to play in a game. For me it was frustrating to see my draft grades slowly decrease when nothing was happening but training. I guess it is easy to forget about a bland and quiet guy who doesn't have the prototypical "look" of a football player. Maybe long hair or tattoos are in order? Ha! The grades finally increased when I had the opportunity to prove myself at regional combines and pro day. The media, scouts, coaches, front office, and everywhere in between is constantly judging your value and making decisions about you throughout this whole process. Unlike college, this means your job and life as you know it is on the line. But if you spend time worrying about what they think about you, where they put you on the depth chart, or if they are going to keep you... this is just wasting your time when you could be improving and proving yourself. This lesson is a constant struggle because so much is on the line in one of the most unpredictable jobs. Along with this I have become stronger in my faith and putting it in God's hands. Moving my wife Ashley and I away from family, out on our own, and not knowing the outcome of my job came with a lot of anxiety and potential guilt if it didn't work out.
Stepping into the facility for the first time I noticed that nothing was too extravagant, like some of the over the top college facilities, but everything I would want or need as a football player. The Rams are the most player oriented team, coaches, and staff I have been around and they take care of us from top to bottom. As for the on the field experience, it was everything that I expected and more! Putting on the NFL jersey and helmet still seams surreal. Even when talking about opponents I can't believe the names that come out of my mouth that I get to go up against each week. As I went through preseason, on to practice squad, and onto the active squad I continued to learn and adjust to the NFL game. The most obvious difference from college is the talent level as everyone is big, fast, strong, and skilled. This makes it that much harder for me on the field, but also off the field as I have to study and be more prepared in order to gain an advantage. Also another difference is time restrictions. In college you have more on your plate when it comes to school so you have more free time. But the NFL is a full time job as most all of my days were from 7-5 of physical and mental work with one day off which is also used for extra film study, lifting, and meeting with coaches. But when it comes down to it football is football, and I had a blast playing this year.
Playing on the "big four" special teams (punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return) with a team full of exciting rookies flying around was awesome. Like I have described it before, it is a track meet out there each and every rep. On special teams you never know when or how the action will come. Some games you simply don't have any opportunities to make any plays. I couldn't get any stats the first few games because of this but finally hit my groove and started to put tackles and knockdowns on the board. Along with the great play of my teammates and great calls from Coach Fassel, we were able to set an NFL record for net punt average of 44.2! Overall we didn't make the playoffs or reach our goals, but had some great positives and growth to take into next year. The day after our final game felt like senior year all over again. Checking out and saying goodbye, because in this business you never know who is coming back. I am now on my first off season on my own and I will stay in St. Louis to train and work to make the team again next year. A year is under my belt and I can't wait to see what God has in store next.