Garrett Hudson struck adversity in his professional career before playing a down in the NFL. After emerging from the NFL Draft without a phone call, the former Richmond tight end got a chance to tryout for a roster spot with the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets in early May.
Both teams eventually cut him. Hudson was discouraged but motivated to prove he belonged in the NFL.
Sparked by being given another chance by the Redskins last week, the Raleigh, N.C., native uses the setbacks he faced as motivation to prove he can help Washington's passing game.
“It was pretty awesome [to receive the invite],” Hudson said. “I’ve tried to stay up and try to keep working and stay positive, but when you don’t make the team twice it’s pretty tough. To get this opportunity is just a blessing and I’m just happy to be here.”
This is not the first time that Hudson has had to prove he can excel in a passing game, however. Starting his college football career at North Carolina, Hudson earned a spot on the Tar Heels as a walk-on.
Wanting to prove that he could succeed in college football, Hudson used his remaining three years of eligibility to play for Richmond. Despite only starting two games in his first season with the Spiders, Hudson’s work ethic was rewarded by becoming a routine starter in his last two seasons and being named to the First Team All-Colonial Athletic Conference as a senior.
With Hudson concluding his senior season with an invite to the NFLPA Bowl, the accomplishments have given the rookie tight end confidence that he can hold his own against an NFL defense.
“I know what I can do,” Hudson said. “I’ve got a lot of people back home supporting me who know what I can do. [Being overlooked] helps me want to prove people wrong to an extent. [I’m] just coming out here every day, work hard and show people what I can do.”
Hudson had less time to catch up to speed on the Redskins’ system, joining the team after rookie minicamp. Leaning on the veteran tight ends for guidance, Hudson’s ability to learn quickly has earned him reps in the Redskins’ offense.
Tight end Jeremy Sprinkle has noticed that the newest member of the Redskins has learned the playbook just as fast as the other rookies and is already contributing to the passing game.
“He’s impressive,” Sprinkle said. "With him coming in after rookie minicamp...he’s had less time than anybody else. I’ve been impressed with him and the way he’s been able to learn the playbook and things like that because for me it was hard even after being here for a month. He’s shown a lot of improvement.”
The 6-foot-4 tight end has already made early impressions on his coaches and teammates. When the Redskins were focusing on red zone fade routes during individual work at Wednesday’s OTA, Hudson caught every ball targeted to him with ease.
Being confident to show that he could transfer the individual work over to the team skill setting, Hudson caught a fade route pass to cap off the first-team session and snagged multiple receptions when the session continued later in the afternoon.
“I think [his confidence] is going to be a progressive thing for him,” wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr. said. “He’s showing that he’s got good confidence. The more he’s learning on what he’s doing, the more you see his play picking up faster, faster and faster.”
Overcoming early obstacles has given Hudson the mindset of wanting to prove he belongs in the NFL. Now that Hudson is showing he can contribute on the offensive end, his next goal is to stick with the team heading into training camp before going after a final roster spot.
But would making the Redskins’ final roster provide a more special meaning for him?
“Absolutely,” Hudson said with a smile. “I love the state of Virginia. I love the general DMV area if you will. Being able to be here is awesome and being able to have a bunch of friends from school and coaches from school who can come watch me practice or come watch me play in some games is going to be awesome.
“I’m from North Carolina, so I’m close to home, too. It’s a great location, great people and I’m excited to be here.”