A little over a year ago, Kyle Auffray was chasing his dream to play professional football at the highest level. He had been working out at one of the better known football training facilities in Florida, Bommarito Performance Systems, staying in game shape, improving his game, and most of all, preparing for a chance. Over a year later, Kyle still is. But, he’s much, much closer to making it. This is a story of sacrifice. This is a story of perseverance. A year later, in the weeks leading up to the 2013 draft, Kyle visited and worked out for three teams. Kyle couldn’t say much about the visits except to say he hoped to hear from one of the teams. Kyle eventually did, but from another team.
When we last heard from Kyle, he was an undrafted, unrestricted free agent for the 2012 season. Many players in his situation would have given up, after having a view of the game from the sidelines for a season, all the while looking ahead to another draft season, with another 950-plus draft prospects in line for teams to choose from, for a limited number of roster spots and practice squad openings. Professional work delayed. Some relationships put on hold. Kyle didn’t give up.
It was tough though. In the early fall of 2012, Kyle played in the Euro-American International Scout Bowl in Poland, a game organized and held by the Collegiate Development Football League for players looking to play professional football. When Kyle returned from that game, Kyle found it tough to keep up with the cost and expense of training in Florida. For the first time, some doubt creeped into Kyle’s mind about his football future. His agent hadn’t heard anything and Kyle had been away from the game for a year. After all this, Kyle knew he had another shot. Rather than give up on his dream, Kyle made some changes.
Kyle moved home to save some money. He began training at Velocity, another well-known training facility, in Greeneville, South Carolina. Kyle also got himself a new agent, a new advocate to fight for him, to get his name in front of teams, and to aggressively pursue a contract on his behalf. Besides this, Kyle found his new agent to be a great motivator for him. Get his agent some good numbers and he could sell it. And of course, Kyle found strength in family. This re-energized Kyle and he focused on his training, and improving his numbers. Kyle worked out as if OTAs were in three weeks.
Eventually, Kyle was invited to another bowl game, the Pro Scout Bowl. But, due to a conflict with a scheduled Pro Day/Regional Combine, Kyle passed on the game, opting to get in front of NFL scouts. It paid off, as Kyle was invited to the Super Regional in Dallas and posted some very good measurables for a tight end: 6’6” tall; 253 lbs.; 4.56/4.57-40-yd.-dash; Bench Press of 30 repititions; L-Cone 6.72 sec.; Short-Shuttle 4.15 sec.; Broad Jump of 9’7”; and, Vertical Jump of 34”. By comparison, top tight-end Tyler Eifert (6’5”, 250 lbs.), posted a 4.68 40-yard dash time, had a bench press of 22 repetitions, broad jump of 9’11”, and a vertical jump of 35.5”, at the NFL combine.
Despite the hurdles to reaching his goals, Kyle’s attitude has been that he has what it takes to play at the NFL-level. His father has reminded him he is just as big as other pro-caliber tight ends, just as strong as other pro-caliber tight ends, and just as fast as other pro-caliber tight ends. The numbers support this. Moreover, Kyle can catch the football. Kyle believes he has the mental tools to play the game.
Well, Kyle will finally get the chance to prove himself. Kyle has been invited to try out for the Arizona Cardinals. It’s an ideal situation for Kyle because besides a handful of tight ends on the roster, no other roster spot looks secure for the tight ends. Kyle looks forward to the opportunity to play H-back, tight end, or special teams. Any way he can contribute to the team is all Kyle wants. At this point, Kyle’s optimism speaks for itself. “Someone will have to tell me I can’t play pro-ball,” Kyle says. All Kyle wanted was an opportunity. He’s finally got it.
For ease of reference, here are links to Kyle’s subsequent interviews.