Jared McGriff-Culver did not hear his name called Saturday, the final day of the NFL Draft. Yet, by the time evening rolled around — and the draft had come to an end — you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone happier.
McGriff-Culver, a 5-foot-11, 250-pound fullback who completed his senior season at Missouri last winter, learned his dream of making the NFL remained alive. Through his agent, he had found out that two teams — Oakland and Green Bay — had invited him to their three-day rookie minicamps. McGriff-Culver consulted his agent and went with Oakland, whose camp will take place May 9-11.
“My mom is probably the happiest,” said McGriff-Culver, who is one of at least eight undrafted Tigers who earned a free-agent contract or rookie minicamp tryout over the weekend. “Saturday evening, you could see the tension and stress in her because I was coming in and out of the room talking to my agent. Then when I came back with good news, it was great. She’s probably the proudest.”
A spokesman for the Raiders said Tuesday that the team cannot confirm the identities of tryout players, per club policy. Regardless, McGriff-Culver is optimistic that if he performs well, he might just come back with a contract.
In a way, the situation is not unlike the one he stepped into at Missouri five years ago, when he joined the team as a walk-on and eventually earned a scholarship (but little notoriety) in the Tigers’ spread offense.
“The fact I walked on at Missouri and played four years and earned my scholarship says a lot about me,” McGriff-Culver said. “I was overlooked in high school and college so I’m anxious for the chance to prove myself. I’m not the strongest or the fastest but if you put me on the football field I will get the job done.”
McGriff-Culver is optimistic he will get that chance in Oakland, though the fullback position has been deemphasized in recent years due to the rise of the spread offense. He served primarily as a blocking back last season for Missouri, catching two passes for 10 yards in 12 games.
“The league and colleges are looking for hybrid tight ends that can play (fullback),” McGriff-Culver said. “I haven’t got a chance to understand Oakland’s offense a whole lot, but I do know they use a fullback extensively, and they’re looking to have two fullbacks on the roster.”
McGriff-Culver hasn’t allowed negative thoughts to creep in, but even if the Raiders tryout doesn’t go according to plan, he has given great thought to his future. He says he’s just started certification to become a personal trainer, and has already filed paperwork to be a substitute teacher in lllinois (he’ll do the same in Missouri shortly).
“So if I want to coach, I can coach,” McGriff-Culver said.
His end goal is to own and operate an indoor and outdoor sports complex that caters to a number of sports, including football, baseball, basketball and soccer. He envisions it being a haven for kids and college athletes who need somewhere to train for the summer.
“I get a joy from helping others, so I’m excited for that,” McGriff-Culver said. “Football can be a bigger avenue to help me achieve my goal, so if I get a chance to play the game I love and get paid for it, I’d be ecstatic.”
So first, he’ll focus on his chance of a lifetime in Oakland, which is less than two weeks away.
“Hopefully I get back on the airplane with a contract,” McGriff-Culver said.