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Rookies on Eve of Professional Debut
Twenty four hours.
For the Chargers 2013 draft class, that’s all that remains until they live out a life-long dream of becoming an NFL player. To a man, each one of them said from the moment they began playing organized football, they imagined the moment they got to run out of the tunnel for that first professional game.
“I’m going to be excited to be out there,” said right tackle D.J. Fluker. “I’m excited to be a Charger and it’s going to be a great day. I haven’t had an ‘Aw shucks I’m in the NFL’ kind of moment yet, but if it happens it’s going to be on Thursday. I’ve spent my whole life watching these guys play and now I’m one of them. That’s a really special thing. I get to play with these guys and live out my dream. I can’t wait to get out there and show the fans that we are coming to play this year.”
Fluker’s sentiments were echoed by his fellow draftees. Just take Manti Te'o for example, who has worked extensively as a starting inside linebacker and is listed as such on the team’s first official depth chart. The second-round pick said he’s going to experience a wide range of emotions before the first snap.
“I’m excited, anxious and ready,” he said. “I’m going to try to stay calm but my nerves are going to be high for sure. But I think that is a good thing. It’s hit me that I’m a Charger, but it’s going to be a completely different atmosphere and feeling on Thursday.”
On the flipside from Te’o, third-round selection Keenan Allen said right now he is void of extra emotions even though he’s long dreamed of his first NFL game. Instead, he’s treating it like any other game even though he admits it will be something special.
“I like to be pretty (even-keeled),” the wide receiver said. “I know that as much as I try to downplay it though in the end I’ll probably be a little extra excited. When I wake up that morning I’ll be nervous and excited. I know I am. But it’s still football at the end of the day. Football is football and I don’t have to prove nothing to anybody but myself.”
Allen’s teammate at Cal was the Bolts fifth-round pick Steve Williams. Similar to Allen, the cornerback said he likes to stay relatively calm, but he is also entering the game confident in his abilities.
“I’m looking forward to showing the fans what I can do,” said Steve Williams. “There are a lot of things I can do and this is my chance to show that. I’m excited to play Seattle and get to work.”
One final draft choice who expressed his emotions about his first game was sixth-round pick Tourek Williams. Converting to an outside linebacker from the defensive end position he played in college, Williams is looking forward to capitalizing on whatever opportunities he’s granted.
“It’s crazy, man,” he said. “Just to be at this point and getting this opportunity, I’m looking to make the most of it and take advantage of whatever time I get. I’m going to focus on making plays for my team. But it really is a dream come true. I watched the NFL all these years and wondered if I was good enough to be at that level and play with them, and the answer is yeah I am. So I’m ready to go out there and prove that I can do it. It’s a dream come true.”
Limited tickets are still available to watch the Chargers rookies in person. Click here to purchase tickets.
Also, if you are attending the game, please review the new NFL public safety policy limiting the size and type of bags that may be brought into the stadium.