Redskins defensive end Regan Upshaw grew up in Pittsburg, Calif., just south of Sacramento, dreaming of making it to the NFL.
Nine years into living that dream, Upshaw will be honored in his hometown on May 22 when he is inducted into Pittsburg High School's Football Hall of Fame.
"It's a huge honor for me," Upshaw said. "It's one of the most important things that has happened in my career because I have a lot of pride coming out of Pittsburg.
"I'm just as excited to go back home and see my friends and family," he added.
Upshaw, who was a Parade All-American as a senior at Pittsburg, would go on to star at the University of California, recording 28 sacks in three seasons.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected him in the first round (12th overall) of the 1996 NFL Draft. He would later go on to play three seasons for the Oakland Raiders and start at right defensive end against Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Upshaw is entering his second season in Washington.
Under Gregg Williams' defense, he is working hard for playing time in the Redskins' defensive end rotation, a mix that is expected to include Renaldo Wynn, Phillip Daniels and Ron Warner, among others.
"Right now, I'm fitting in wherever they put me," Upshaw said. "I'm playing some right end and also a little bit of left end. Whether I'm a starter or a backup, I'm going to play 110 percent and be the best that I can be."
Upshaw said he is especially looking forward to the 2004 season because it will be the first year since 2001 that he will be at full health.
In 2002 with the Oakland Raiders, Upshaw sat out the first 11 games with a knee injury, but returned to the field for the final five games and the Raiders' playoff run.
He signed with the Redskins in 2003 and played through lingering soreness in his knee. Last year, Upshaw started eight games and recorded 22 tackles and one sack.
"I know that next season, from a health standpoint, I'm going to be 100 percent," he said. "I've been training all offseason to have a good year, so I'm expecting to have a good year. I'm ready to play football."
For his career, Upshaw has recorded 187 tackles, 34.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. He has started 78 NFL games.
Upshaw and all of the defensive linemen have been working closely with defensive coordinator/line coach Greg Blache during off-season mini-camps.
Upshaw said Blache's up-tempo coaching style meshes well with his own upbeat personality.
"Coach Blache seems like the kind of coach where if during the season you're tiring, he'll get in your face and give you the kind of motivation you need to get better," Upshaw said. "He knows the game extremely well, which for me is a blessing.
"It has put me in a position to learn the game from a broader perspective."