Many football players don’t get the chance to enter the National Football League, and for some, the road is filled with uncertainty. Not hearing your name called on draft night can be devastating, but undrafted free agent safety JoJo McIntosh did not let that deter his dreams of playing in the NFL.
The former University of Washington safety wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine. He wasn’t called on draft night. Despite these circumstances, he signed a UDFA contract with the Redskins and entered rookie minicamp to prove he had what it took to perform on the world’s highest stage.
“[I was] there in the draft just waiting for my name to be called,” McIntosh said. “I had a few teams call me right after the draft and during the draft, so luckily I was able to come here. Blessed with the opportunity.”
So far, he’s taken advantage, learning a lot in a short time frame.
“It showed us what the coaches wanted from us,” McIntosh said of rookie minicamp. “We got a few plays to get installed before we started OTAs, so it was good to get a head start.”
With OTAs as the next step up from rookie minicamp, the newcomers have mixed with seasoned veterans. The new challenge has remained business as usual for the strong-willed safety.
“Guys are working hard,” McIntosh said last week. “Everybody’s out here trying to be the best team, everybody’s out here competing.”
McIntosh started all four years at Washington among a talented secondary, amassing 211 total tackles in his tenure. Starting all but one game in his four years of eligibility, McIntosh credits his time at Washington for developing him into the player he is today, both on the field and off.
“We’ve got some good coaches at Washington and everybody there,” he said. “Coming out here and some of the stuff these coaches are preaching, I’ve already learned.”
As he tries to grasp the defense, he’s received several helping hands along the way from the Redskins’ coaching staff and new teammates.
“They’re on top of it. They’re smart, they know what they’re talking about,” McIntosh said of the coaching staff. “They’re getting after it and you can tell they want to have a championship team and that they’re working
“It feels good because when I get in and I’m doing whatever I need to do, you know they’ll pull me to the side and say ‘that’s a good play but you can do this much faster if you see this and see this,’” he added.
Being alongside new teammates, building chemistry at OTAs and soaking up everything around him has been important as a newcomer, leaning on those who share some of his experience.
“Mason Foster went to UW, so I texted him when the Skins picked me up,” said McIntosh. “He’s been looking out for me.”
One of six safeties currently on the Redskins’ roster, McIntosh has much to prove to be in starting contention. Like most rookies, he’ll work hard on special teams and hope to use it as an avenue to making the final roster at the end of the preseason. In between, he'll hope his safety play stands out when it needs to.
“I’m one of the young guys, and they’ve been here for a while and they know the playbook, so I just have to make sure I get in the film room and dive into my playbook to make sure I’m competing on the same level as those guys,” said the rookie. “Everyone in college doesn’t make it, but everyone here is definitely at the top – they’re the professionals.”