For former University of Central Florida linebacker Pat Jasinski, the NFL Draft did not go exactly as planned.
"It's funny when you get to this part, because for the most part, a lot of guys know when their football career is going to end,” said Jasinski. “Whether it's high school, college. Any level. It kind of ends at a certain point. When you get to this stage, it's kind of hard, because it could end at any point."
The Blessed Trinity alum enjoyed a standout career at UCF, starting every game his final two seasons in Orlando and earning second team all-conference honors as a senior. Still, he went undrafted, and did not get an undrafted free agent contract after the draft was over.
Despite that, you can find him lifting weights at his alma mater in Roswell, getting ready for what’s next.
“Any opportunity is an opportunity,” said Jasinski.
Jasinski earned an invite to Falcons rookie camp, which starts later this week. That means he does not have a contract or an official spot on the roster yet – only a handful of players per team manage to turn rookie camp invites into offseason roster sports; fewer still parlay the chance into a place on the team during the season.
"It's just giving everything you've got, because that could be the only opportunity you get,” said Jasinski.
It may sound like a nerve-wracking experience: a weekend-long tryout for an NFL team, with nothing guaranteed beyond those few days. For Jasinski, however, it’s familiar: he was lightly recruited out of high school, turning only a handful of scholarship offers into an important role on UCF’s defense. He was a key member of some of the best teams in school history, including the 2018 win in the Peach Bowl over Auburn.
"I feel like I've kind of been a player throughout my whole life that's been a little under-looked,” said Jasinski. “I've never been the biggest or the fastest guy out there, but I take it very seriously.”
Still, Jasinski is realistic, and knows it will take a great performance in rookie camp to earn a coveted roster spot.
“I think if you give everything every day and strive towards a goal, when that day comes that you're done, you'll be content with what you've done, know you've given it everything you had,” said Jasinski.