After going undrafted as a defensive tackle out of North Carolina State, T.Y. McGill decided the only option was to work even harder to prove he belonged in the NFL.
"It definitely was a motivational thing that I didn't get drafted," McGill said. "It gave me more motivation to come in and prove what I have. That's how I looked at it. I told my family I was going to work as hard as I can and not have any regrets after it's over."
There was just one problem for McGill. Nobody was calling.
Plenty of undrafted rookies make their mark in the NFL, but most who show up to training camp and make an impression are players who, despite going undrafted, are sought-after players who have multiple teams offering contracts and even modest signing bonuses the moment the draft ends.
That was not McGill's draft weekend experience. No, McGill not only went undrafted, he went unsigned the day after the draft and for many more to come. In fact, only one team, the Seahawks, offered a tryout at their rookie minicamp.
"This was the only team that gave me a shot to come in for the minicamp," he said.
McGill not only did enough at that minicamp to earn a spot on Seattle's 90-man roster, he has since gotten the attention of his coaches, especially after a solid performance in Friday's preseason opener against the Broncos, which included four tackles and a quarterback hit. Most notably, McGill shed a block and stuffed a rush attempt on 3rd-and-1, forcing Denver to settle for a field goal.
McGill made such an impression in the game that afterward, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll mentioned his name without being prompted, saying, "T.Y. McGill made some plays tonight," when talking about various players who stood out.
Carroll admitted that the Seahawks have been pleasantly surprised with the development of a player who didn't just go undrafted, but who also went unsigned for another two weeks after the draft.
"Yeah and he has (surprised us)," Carroll said. "All the way through all of our workouts, he's been impressive. He's real quick, and he showed it in the game. He played well at the point of attack; he had the great play he makes in the back door in the short-yardage play. But he did some other nice things too just playing the scheme. So he helped himself; it was a really good outing for him. We're anxious to see how he comes around next time too."
The same work ethic that has helped McGill make it this far won't let him enjoy Friday's performance too much. Asked about that game, he says he needs to work on his pad level or his footwork or his pass rush. McGill, who is listed at 6-foot, 299 pounds, has been primarily playing the nose tackle position where Brandon Mebane, another short—by D-lineman standards—is the starter.
"That's a great deal," McGill said of Carroll's praise. "But I'm just coming out every day just trying to prove I belong, just to get an opportunity to play for this great organization… As an individual, my goal is to be better than I was the day before. That's how I'm going about it every day."
Day 14 of Seahawks Training Camp presented by Bing saw Earl Thomas in pads for the first time and a brief guest DJ appearance by Michael Bennett and Marshawn Lynch.