In the Colts' rookie mini-camp this weekend were a number of players looking to earn a spot on an NFL roster, and one of the most intriguing such player in camp was a 27-year old undrafted rookie tight end out of the University of Massachusetts. And with less than a year of Division I football under his belt, Jean Sifrin has certainly taken the long road to get to where he is today.
As the Monday Morning Quarterback's Emily Kaplan told earlier this year, his mother picked up his family and moved from the Bahamas to Miami. His childhood was spent moving around the Miami area between different school districts, never settling long enough to get involved in sports. He dropped out of high school when he was 17 and shortly thereafter earned his GED. When he was 19 years old, he became a father and suddenly had to work to support a family. When he was 21, he joined a flag football team, playing wide receiver, and a scout from ASA Junior College in Brooklyn noticed him and offered him the opportunity to play organized football.
"It was during like a tournament," Sifrin described to the media on Saturday. "Actually, we were practicing for a tournament and a guy came out there for another play. He saw me, and then it went on from there. He asked me, ‘Have you ever played the sport?' Well, I've played the sports, but I never did it at a collegiate level. This was when I was 22 then I started up there in New York at a junior college called ASA.
"I went to ASA for a year," Sifrin continued. "Things didn't work out there for me and then I transferred to El Camino College, where I redshirted for the first year and the second year I played. I had the opportunity to go to Oklahoma [or] USC but UMASS was a better choice for me. I went out there, did what I had to do and now I'm here."
At UMass, Sifrin was forced to sit out his first game due to eligibility issues with the transfer, but he ended his season by catching 42 passes for 642 yards and six touchdowns - also making this one-handed catch. He entered the NFL Draft and attended the NFL Combine, but he was undrafted when the draft actually rolled around. The Indianapolis Colts came calling, however, and the 6-5, 245 pound tight end is now in Indianapolis competing for a spot.
After everything he has been through, Sifrin appreciates this chance even more. "I get to do this as a career, so have fun running around on the field," Sifrin told the media on Saturday, taking the opportunity to realize what a privilege it is. And he certainly has the motivation to succeed, too: "My family, my son, my mom (and) everything we've been through. That's what really drives me," Sifrin noted.
The 27-year old tight end is just one of a number of rookies looking to make it with the Colts who has had a long road to get here, and Jean Sifrin possesses a skill-set and athleticism that makes him an intriguing player to keep an eye on as we move forward this offseason. He's a good receiving tight end, and while he still needs some work and is considered old for a rookie, he has potential that is certainly worth watching.
"I'm versatile," Sifrin said, describing what he brings to the team. "I can block. I can set the edge. I can also stretch the field. I create mismatches against linebackers, safeties, wherever they put me. If they flex me out, I'm bigger than the corner. I create mismatches."
There's the question of where exactly he would fit into a team that has Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener as one of the top tight end duos in the NFL and then Jack Doyle as the third tight end - who had an impressive 2014 season. Added with players such as Erik Swoope who will be competing for a spot as well, there might not be a ton of room for Sifrin to make it. But one thing we know is that if a player impresses enough there will be a spot for him, and that's what the undrafted rookie is trying to do. He faces an uphill climb, but he's a guy to keep an eye on.