Surrounded by family and friends back home in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on April 27, offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher received a life-changing phone call.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was on the other line, and he was calling to inform Pierschbacher that Washington would be taking him with the 153rd-overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Now, fewer than three weeks later, Pierschbacher stands at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner in McLean, Va., surrounded by Redskins' greats at Joe Gibbs' 30th Annual Burgundy & Gold Banquet. He mingles with some of the "Hogs" -- a group of Redskins' offensive linemen that dominated the line of scrimmage during the 1980s and early 1990s. At one point, Pierschbacher even does a joint interview with legendary tackle Joe Jacoby.
It's an interaction that signifies all the Redskins' fifth-round pick has accomplished up to this point, and all he's looking prove in Washington.
"Just seeing a guy like this, who left such a big mark in the NFL -- and with the Washington Redskins in particular -- it's just awesome to be able to talk to him and see what type of person he is," Pierschbacher said.
Added Jacoby: "I enjoy seeing [the rookies]. I enjoy seeing their excitement, what lies out there in front of them as far as the opportunity that they have here with the Redskins and what they can do. It's been 38 years for me, so it's kind of neat to see the young fresh faces."
The Redskins invested in Pierschbacher last month in large part because of his experience and versatility. His 57-career starts in college are the most for an Alabama position player in school history, with 42 of those coming at left guard -- an unsettled position within the Redskins' organization. Pierschbacher, who debuted with the Redskins at rookie minicamp last weekend, figures to compete with fourth-round pick Wes Martin and offseason signee Ereck Flowers for the starting job.
“Just show that they didn’t make a mistake picking me," Pierschbacher said of his objective entering the event at Redskins Park. "And just bond with these guys, compete and build some camaraderie with the rookies, and I feel like we did that this week.”
Pierschbacher spent the weekend working closely with his Martin, who served as his roommate in the hotel room and his tone-setting partner on the practice field. Pierschbacher said he and Martin, a fellow Midwest native, "bonded right away" after being selected back-to-back on Day 3 of the NFL Draft.
Rookie minicamp also provided Pierschbacher with his first chance to develop under renowned offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who actually had the chance to meet with Pierschbacher and watch him workout at Alabama during the draft process, according to Director of College Scouting Kyle Smith.
"[Callahan] had a chance to see Ross up close and personal and see him work, and get his hand on him and get him out, bring him into the meeting room and talk ball with him," Smith said on "Redskins Nation" on April 30. "He was blown away his intelligence and the character of the player, and obviously he’s a good player; that matters, too.”
After practice last Saturday, Pierschbacher expressed his excitement about finally getting back on the field following months of draft preparation and speculation about where he'd end up.
Now, it's a matter of familiarizing himself with the Redskins' offensive line schemes and learning the techniques Callahan demands -- both of which will be crucial as Pierschbacher attempts to become an immediate contributor up front.
"It’ll be a tough love type of relationship, but that’s how [Callahan] gets his players to play the best that they can," Pierschbacher said. "I’m really excited to be able to work for him. I feel like I’ve already improved, two days in. He knows so much about this offensive line play. I’m just excited to get after it.”