Dean Muhtadi was talking with his personal trainer when the NFL Draft came and went a couple weekends ago without hearing his name called.
It was a dose of reality Muhtadi was somewhat ready for. He’d suffered an injury in early March, and he’d also only started a couple times for Maryland as a senior.
So he wasn’t drafted. Nor quickly offered a free agent deal. Instead, he netted a tryout with Green Bay last weekend, which is about what he got when he transferred from Division III Christopher Newport to Maryland in 2006.
“When I didn’t get drafted and didn’t get signed, he said ‘Would have it any other way,’” Muhtadi said last night with his familar booming voice. “‘Has anything ever been given to you? It’s always been the longest, hardest road. The tryout is just continuing your lifestyle.’”
Indeed it was, and Muhtadi made the most of the three-day tryout, inking a free-agent deal with the Packers (as did offensive tackle Dane Randolph) this week.
It’s been hectic ever since. He flew back to Baltimore on Sunday night, trying to get some reading and homework done while traveling. He made several phone calls on the drive home from the airport and didn’t get back to his room until 2 a.m.
Yes, there are still projects and papers and exams as he completes another semester in Maryland’s MBA program. And it came despite losing his greatest offseason advantage – the chance to thrive at the Terps’ pro day – because of a pulled hamstring.
But the tryout popped up, though it came with a team that drafted a couple defensive linemen (including Boston College’s B.J. Raji) – so there was always the chance Muhtadi was just fodder.
Regardless, the former walk-on with an outsized personality figured there was only one way to approach things.
“I was my normal self, yelling and hooting and hollering,” Muhtadi said. “Running everywhere. If they told me to take five steps, I’m sprinting there. The tempo and toughness derived from Maryland football really gave us a huge edge because we’re used to that fast tempo and used to going and having physical practices at Maryland. A lot of these guys, they were not used to it. We were ahead of the curve.”
Green Bay’s switch to a 3-4 this season helped out as well, since the Packers have a greater need for defensive linemen than a year ago.
Either way, Muhtadi’s heading back to Green Bay on May 17 for the rookie acclimation week. It’s got him in a reflective mood; he passed by Christopher Newport during draft weekend, and is still around College Park while classes are in session.
Now, a guy who didn’t have a scholarship until this time last year has earned the opportunity he always wanted.
‘It’s just huge,” Muhtadi said. “Obviously, I haven’t made the active roster yet. But signing, I just opened a whole lot more doors. After I signed, my agent said he got a couple calls from a couple more teams to get a look at me. I said ‘Where were you this whole time?’
“I’m loving this situation in Green Bay. Like I told my family, it’s way too hard and I have to take it for what its worth right now. This is a grind and it’s just a beginning. My family and friends said ‘You made it.’ I don’t think so. I got a shot, and that’s all I wanted.”