NORFOLK, Va. - For players at smaller schools, the journey to the NFL isn't always pretty. From going undrafted, to waiting for training camp invites, the process can take a toll. "You have two options when facing obstacles, you can run from them and hide, or you can face them head on," said Redskins linebacker Lynden Trail.
Trail spent three seasons at Norfolk State after transferring from Florida. During his time with the Spartans, he garnered multiple All-MEAC selections, and was a finalist for the top FCS defensive player in the nation. After leaving NSU, Trail went undrafted, and spent a season injured with the Houston Texans before landing with the Redskins.
In the course of his time with the 'Skins, Trail has been cut twice from the practice squad, but that never stopped him. In Week 16 of the NFL season, he made his NFL debut against the Chicago Bears. "It's kind of a roller coaster, that's what I compare it to more than anything," said Trail. "You have your ups, you have your downs, but God's going to put certain things in your way to actually become stronger from it."
With the suspension of 'Skins linebacker Trent Murphy, Trail has an opportunity to be the next man up. "If you continue to grind, continue to work, eventually someone will see it."
Deon King spent the 2013-15 seasons with the Spartans and made the most of his time. In his final season, King was awarded the Buck Buchanan award for the top defensive player in FCS. After his senior season, his NFL journey started by going undrafted, and going from the Dallas Cowboys to the San Diego Chargers. Both were short stints, and King finally landed with the Indianapolis Colts where he's hoping to up his special teams role this season.
"Last year I got my feet wet a bit, but now I want to be on every special teams unit." His debut for the Colts came in Week 9, recording one tackle. But as Spartan faithful have seen, he can contribute much more. "I've got to be the backup, until I prove my worth, and I'm going to keep goin
His offseason has been strictly academia and workouts. In May, he'll graduate with his degree from NSU. As he continues to improve in life aspects, his offseason training has him ahead of the curve for OTA's. "King's always been a robot, I think he just went harder this off-season more than anything," said Trail.
As the roller coaster moves on to the next hill, King and Trail are hoping that this season provides more positive thrills.