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The Redskins recently signed 13 college free agents to the roster, giving those undrafted a second chance to continue their pursuit of playing in the NFL.
In most situations, by nature of the depth chart, or injuries, or systems, some of these players won't make the cut. Living with that kind of unpredictable future can be difficult, but, depending on the results, it can be just as rewarding.
"I was a tryout guy actually," said Redskins fullback Darrel Young, who originally played linebacker for Villanova. "I didn't get a call for free agency. I didn't get a signing bonus. So my mindset, I came in and didn't have a sticker on my helmet. The guys who had stickers, names on the back of their jerseys, [were] the guys they signed in the draft and free agent guys, so my mindset was to get my name on the back of my jersey and move forward then."
Young experienced some initial setbacks.
After signing in 2009 he was waived right before the beginning of the season and two weeks later was released. That winter he signed a futures contract but when he reported for camp that spring, he found that head coach Mike Shanahan had converted him to fullback, based on characteristics the coaching staff had liked and the need for the position.
He started to make strides in 2010, receiving his first career touchdown against the Eagles, and was eventually named the starter prior to 2011.
In between, he was busy working on special teams, competing with other practice squad members and backups trying to make an impression every time he could.
"Special teams, being my role. I know the struggle," he said of the team's new undrafted free agents. "I know what they're going to go through. It's about to be the best/worst time of their life because you're in the locker room – all you can ask for is an opportunity – but when you're sixth on the depth chart, it's kind of mind-boggling. You've just got to stay focused. It's stressful but only God knows the opportunity that will be there for you. You've got to make the most of it when your number's called. It may not be until the last preseason game."