Things are once again beginning to heat up around the NFL. The draft has come and gone, mini camps and OTA’s are on the calendar and not to mention the weather is starting to make it feel quite like pigskin season.
As all 32 teams continue prepping for 2018-19, there continues to be a number of players looking for new homes as free agents. Some have seen their days in the NFL already while others may have been overlooked in the most recent draft, however, they all have the same goal: To compete at the highest level.
And each of these players has their own story. An interesting and inspiring one that caught my eye? – Former Richmond TE Garrett Hudson
Once a walk on at UNC, and now an undrafted free agent, Hudson knows adversity better than the back of his hand. He fought his way from walk on player to First Team-All CAA standout, and now he battles another obstacle looking to solidify a spot in the NFL.
I had the opportunity to talk with Hudson about his journey, his goals, and what the NFL experience has been like so far for him. The former Richmond Spider provided some great insight:
Name: Garrett Hudson
Position: Tight End
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
Q: Reports I’ve seen have said you’ve been invited to the camps of the Lions, Jaguars, and Jets – what’s that experience been like so far for you?
It’s been crazy. I thought that I had done enough in my career at Richmond and at pro day to possibly be a late round draft pick or a priority free agent signee but for whatever reason all 32 teams passed me up. I realize there are a lot of really talented players with the same goals as me, so I understand. I have just used it as motivation and am very blessed to have the opportunity to prove myself. I thought I performed really well last weekend with the Jets and learned a lot.
They have a crowded tight end room so there just wasn’t a roster spot for me but it was an incredible experience and I’m so thankful to the organization for having me. This weekend I get another shot to go compete in Detroit and show them I belong in the NFL.
Q: You started your collegiate career as a walk on at North Carolina, and after your collegiate career you became an undrafted free agent. Do moments like this give you the motivation to keep pushing forward? Would you say you’re overlooked, undiscovered or underappreciated to a certain degree?
Absolutely. From high school to college, to now being in the NFL, I’ve always been overlooked and I felt like I deserved more opportunities than I got, but that’s life. The game has taught me so much about working hard for what you get and I can honestly say I’ve earned everything I’ve got out of football. I try to outwork everybody and I still think my best best football is ahead of me. I’ve made huge strides just since January and I feel faster, stronger, and healthier than I’ve ever been.
I’m ready for a team to give me a shot so I can show them I belong. I just use the adversity as motivation to work harder every day and try and get 1% better every day.
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Q: From what I’ve read, seen and heard, you classify yourself as a versatile player, and teams love that. What makes you versatile as a tight end, and is that something you pride yourself on?
Yes, I think think the more you can do to help the team win, the better chance you have of sticking on a roster. First off, I am a guy who loves special teams. At Richmond, they wouldn’t let me do it much because I was playing so many snaps on offense, but I look forward to trying to carve out a role on special teams in the NFL. I also can do a lot of stuff on offense. At Richmond I lined up on the line, split out wide, in the slot, at fullback and even some at running back.
My roommate was Kyle Lauletta, the quarterback, and we used to watch a ton of film. I pride myself in knowing what everybody does on every play so I’m a guy you can plug into a lot of spots on offense and I can play. I feel like I’m a very well rounded tight end and can play tight end or fullback at the next level.
Q: Speaking of Kyle Lauletta, he is also getting his opportunity in New York, except he’ll be rocking the red and blue. What did you learn from him? How do you see his play style translating to the NFL? And do you think he has what it takes to eventually become Eli Manning’s heir apparent?
I think just being around him made it easy to focus on football. He truly loves the game and it’s contagious. We would, no joke, sit in the offensive staff room for 5-6 hours some nights just watching practice, game film, NFL film to see how the pros do stuff. It helped me a lot in my development as a player because I knew at any time of day I could call him up and he would be down to throw routes, or lift, or watch film. I think he is one of, if not the most pro ready quarterback this year.
We ran two pro style offenses in 2015 and 2016 under coach Fisher and coach Garrett and he thrived in both of them. His footwork and timing going through reads is pretty crazy and he has a stronger arm than people want to give him credit for. I don’t doubt that he will put the work in and do what’s asked of him to succeed in New York. And when Eli Manning retires I think he can step in and the Giants won’t miss a beat.
Q: You’ve already got to work with Sam Darnold and even caught a few balls from him in mini camp. What stands out to you about him, if anything? How was he with the guys in the locker room and on the field?
The thing that sticks out to me about Sam is his confidence. He has a ton of arm talent and trusts it. He made a few throws to me during camp where he fit the ball into a small window. I think as the weekend progressed he got better every day. He looked really sharp on day 3 of practice. He made like 4 or 5 unbelievable throws in a row and all the coaches kind of looked around at each other and just smiled.
Sam obviously has the talent and from the three days I played with him, he seems to have the leadership traits you look for in a franchise quarterback.
Really nice throw from Darnold here. Rolled out & threw across body to TE Garrett Hudson (Richmond). Next pass he overshot on deep bomb to, I believe, Matt VandeBerg (Iowa). #Jets
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) May 4, 2018
Beautiful throw from Darnold just now. Back-shoulder completion to Garrett Hudson (Richmond). Beat Kacy Rodgers II in 7-on-7 still. Really impressive. #Jets
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) May 4, 2018
Q: What’s been the biggest obstacle for you since leaving Richmond and attempting to find a new home in the NFL? Have there been any unexpected challenges or things asked of you?
I think the biggest obstacle has just been the fact that I still don’t have a home yet. I expected to be a member of a team on April 28th and I find myself still working to find the right fit for me. Luckily, facing an uphill battle to reach my goals isn’t new to me and I’m used to the hard work required to make it as an undrafted tryout player. I have a great support system back home and they have been very encouraging through the process.
Q: If you had to compare yourself to one NFL player, who would it be and why?
I think there are a few players I think I play like, but I think I’m a lot like Trey Burton. We both are former quarterbacks and can play a lot of different positions. We have similar measurables and combine results. We are both undrafted players who can contribute on special teams and do a lot of unique things to create mismatches and advantages for the offense.
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