TAMPA - Maybe it doesn't make sense that he'd keep this dream alive. Maybe Jay-T Rysaac is foolish to think he might still be able to make it as a defensive back in the NFL. After all, Rysaac is 34 years old.
So why was the former safety from Georgetown College, a small NAIA school in Kentucky, in Tampa on Saturday to show his skills at an NFL Regional Combine? Well, maybe it's because Rysaac knows how close he got when he was 33.
"My age plays no part in this except for the fact there's a stereotype with older guys," Rysaac said. "When they get older, they can't play. But there is a way, if you take care of your body through preventative therapy -- the right training -- you're able to perform much longer down the road."
Rysaac, you see, managed to advance last year from a Regional Combine in Seattle to the next stage of this program, the Super Combine. His 40 time of 4.4 seconds opened eyes - and defied expectations about his age. But Rysaac said he had a rough day at that next stage, thwarting his dreams but not derailing them entirely.
Rysaac, like all of the 172 athletes in Tampa on Saturday, understand these very numbers: There are currently 50 former participants at these Regional Combines on NFL rosters, including 30 players among the active 53-man rosters. And 10 players from last year's edition of the Regional Combine program (just like Rysaac) were active for the first weekend of the 2013 season.
So you'll have to excuse Rysaac for keeping his dream alive. It just makes too much sense, even when considering his age, for him to give up entirely. That being said, Rysaac recognizes this year is likely his last opportunity to make that leap.
It is unknown whether Rysaac will indeed manage to get another shot at the Super Combine. But it did appear, on this Saturday, that another safety might get a chance to impress some scouts on the next level.
Garrett Waggoner appeared, at least on the surface, to be among the most impressive prospects in attendance Saturday. At 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, Waggoner showed some skills that would have been competitive at the invitational NFL Combine in Indianapolis. He posted a 43-inch vertical and a 4.1 second shuttle run.
That vertical would have set him among the best of the best for safeties at the main Combine in Indianapolis. Waggoner, a first-team All-Ivy League player for Dartmouth last season, certainly seemed to do enough to earn an advancement to the Super Combine on April 12-13 in Detroit.
Officials for the Regional Combine will decide later this week who will attend the Super Regional. And they'll have some decent names, even beyond Waggoner and Rysaac, to choose from. Former Wake Forrest quarterback Tanner Price was the most recognizable name of the bunch, and David Foucault might have been the easiest to pick out.
Foucault measured up at 6-foot-7, 300 pounds. The Canadian prospect traveled to Tampa after significant Combine training, and he feels like the work paid off.
"I worked for this for two months for these drills," Foucault said. "I think I'm ready. I did well. I'm happy."
Foucault is considered a legitimate prospect in the upcoming Canadian Football League Draft, but he also wanted to get on the radar of NFL scouts since he did not attend college or play any football in the United States.
Indeed, the talent pool stretched from large to small, old to young, known to unknown, during Saturday's Regional Combine in Tampa. But they still all had something in common: All were continuing to pursue their dreams no matter their circumstances.