While most of the Seahawks rookie class was on the football field Friday, receiver Cyril Grayson was 2,000 miles away in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he was graduating from LSU with a degree in kinesiology.
Not long after receiving his diploma, Grayson drove to New Orleans to catch a flight to Seattle so he could take part in the last two days of minicamp.
"This weekend has been good," Grayson said following Sunday's practice. "It started off great in Baton Rouge, I got to graduate—one of my biggest accomplishments ever—then getting here, being able to compete, getting reps with the rest of the new guys. It's been a good weekend."
Grayson was only on the ground in Louisiana for 25 hours, arriving Thursday evening then leaving Friday, and was back in Seattle at 11 p.m. Friday. He had to fight a bit of dehydration from all of that travel, not to mention the lack of sleep, but it was worth it for Grayson to be able to graduate and still take part in most of the minicamp.
A busy weekend is just the latest step in Grayson's very unusual path to the NFL. A track and field All-American at LSU, Grayson last played organized football in high school, but after convincing LSU's football team to let him take part in their pro day workout last month, Grayson put on an impressive enough performance that the Seahawks put him on a flight the next day and signed him shortly thereafter (as a fifth-year senior who did not play football, Grayson was eligible to be signed immediately as opposed to being draft eligible).
By signing with the Seahawks a month ago, Grayson has been able to participate in offseason workouts with veterans, giving him a head start on the rest of the rookies, an advantage that could help a player who has so much learning to do after being away from the game for so long.
And while Grayson went to LSU to run track, the NFL has always been a goal, it just became harder to pursue when he realized that, as an athlete on scholarship for track and field, he was not eligible to play football as a walk-on. Even so, he didn't give up on the idea, and thanks to an impressive pro day and his blazing speed, Grayson is currently on an NFL roster competing for a job.
"The plan was to play in college, I planned on getting a chance to, but I wasn't able to, so the next option was pro," Grayson said. "I didn't have any more years of eligibility for college, so I was either going to the NFL or CFL or something to get my chance."
Grayson said there has been a learning curve getting back into football, but having been around for a month has helped, as has advice from Seattle's veteran receivers.
"The classroom part of football has been kind of little tough for me and I've been trying to learn ways to learn the playbook so I'm able to compete," he said. "But the older guys have been really good to me, they've reached out to me to try to help me with what to do in certain situations, ways to run routes, taking my time and things, just so I can learn and get that muscle memory back and get into the swing of things so I'm able to compete."
Grayson still has plenty of work to do to show he belongs in the NFL, but the Seahawks see enough potential him that they'll be patient with his development.
"We've seen enough in Phase 2 (of OTAs) here to give us hopes that he really has an upside," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "The speed is obvious. He's got a really good catching range, he's really natural catching the deep ball, we've already seen that. So we know, 'OK, he's really fast, he can catch the deep ball, can we get him lined up right? Can he get his footwork right? Can he get off the line of scrimmage? Can he time it up? He's got a great attitude, he's got a wonderful personality. I can't wait for you guys to meet him and see what he's all about. He has competed at a really high level in his sporting career, and you can tell that confidence carries over into what he's coming into here. It's not too big for him to go for it. He studies, he stays late, he's in early. Really a beautiful first impression he has made for us. We're going to be patient with him because he has such good natural talents. We'll wait him out and see how long it takes. Remember we took a long time with Ricardo Lockette, and Lock figured it out and became a real constant around here, but it took him a while coming out of the track background and all of that. So we'll see what happens, but very encouraged by what we've seen."
Photos from the third and final day of Seahawks rookie minicamp at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.