As told to Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor, by former USC RB Silas Redd (2012-13)
Former USC running back Silas Redd wrapped up an impressive NFL rookie season last December, overcoming injuries in his senior year at USC to sign as an undrafted free agent with the Washington Redskins and earn his spot on the team's depth chart. A year ago, Redd was unsure of what his future held as he worked every day to prove himself through rookie training camps and ultimately in front of the entire Redskins organization at OTAs. As this year's class of Trojans enter their first NFL training camps with the hope of taking their game to the next level, Redd looks back and provides a window into what the journey to the league looks like from a player's perspective.
The last installment of this series focuses on the period of time from signing as an undrafted free agent to making the final 53-man roster for the 2014 Washington Redskins.
Undrafted: May 8-10, 2014
Everyone always builds up what they do on draft day. I remember just wanting to spend it with my close family and friends in my home. We had a small group of people over and just cooked and ate and waited. The worst part was waiting. I was so anxious, so nervous just because I was pretty unsure of where I was going to end up and if I was going to end up anywhere. I knew my knee was a concern and what ultimately led to me not being drafted, but I had had some good meetings with teams leading up to the draft and I thought I could go in one of the later rounds. Then, I received a call from Randy Jordan (the Redskins running backs coach) around the fifth or sixth round saying they were interested in me. I knew I still had a long road ahead of me if I wanted to make the roster but I just had faith in myself. I just shared the moment with my family and started looking at the challenges that lay ahead.
First Impressions: May 15-17, 2014
I was really anxious to get to rookie camp just because I had missed the game so much. After being hurt, I was just so ready to get back out there and compete again. The whole rookie camp process is a three-day process. I had a lot of fun and more importantly, I really thought I practiced well so it gave me some confidence heading into the rest of summer workouts and OTAs. Leading up to camp, I was out in Los Angeles at the Athletic Performance Institute in Carson where I worked out before, and I really believe that they helped me get to the level I needed to be at to perform as well as I did. The thing that kept me going and that's always kept me going throughout this whole process is my family. The love and support I receive from them just gives me motivation to work that much harder despite any obstacle that I may encounter. My son is really what gave me the strength needed to grind and work like I did.
Earning A Spot: July 24-August 28, 2014
Just as I was ready and anxious before rookie camp, I was nervous to begin training camp. The Redskins were pretty deep at the running back position so I was competing and learning from people like Alfred Morris who had the top spot on the depth chart locked up. I had played one season with his backup, Evan Royster, when I was a freshman at Penn State so I knew his capabilities and then there was also Roy Helu Jr. On top of all that talent, I was going up against rookie Lache Seastrunk, so yet again I was faced with this major obstacle where I had to fight for a chance to prove myself.
The biggest difference I noticed once OTAs started was that I was expected to know the game of football and know what I was supposed to be doing at all times. They knew I was a rookie but at the same time they wanted to see how fast I learned, comprehended and could think. This is where I felt like it was the time to show them that I could handle the workload as far as the schemes and different plays. It was tough coming in as an undrafted free agent because that already puts me behind some of the other talent on the field, but I just took advantage of the opportunities that were given to me.
There's a saying that you don't count the reps, you make the reps count so that's what I tried to do whenever I got my chance. I really relied on the leadership from Bradford Banta, who actually played TE at USC and is the assistant special teams coach for the Redskins. He worked with me every step of the way developing my skills as a special teams player because that's really how I made the team. I had never really done special teams, especially tackling, so I worked closely with him to get my skills to the necessary level to earn a spot.