The majority of NFL players share a similar path to the league — high school football athlete, to college football prospect, and finally to professional football player.
But for tight end Codey McElroy, the journey looks quite different — consisting of a stint in minor league baseball and a season spent in college basketball, before finally signing with the Rams as an undrafted free agent.
"Coming out of high school I was a baseball player," McElroy said. "I didn't have football. I graduated with 18 kids, so we played baseball and basketball."
Check out behind-the-scenes photos of rookies arriving at the Rams' facility in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
From there, the 6-foot-6, 255-pound athlete went onto play baseball at the University of Texas and Cameron University. He then spent a year in the Braves farm system, before deciding that baseball was not the "route I wanted to go with my life."
He was ready, he says, to try something new.
"I had one year left of eligibility and that's when I went back to Oklahoma State and I walked on the basketball team there — had a great experience," he said. "But I was out of eligibility, so I graduated and was coaching baseball and thought I was done with my athletic career."
It turned out his career was far from over. McElroy went back to school — fully intending to graduate with a safety degree and become an engineer in the oil fields. Instead, the tight end walked on with the Southeastern football team and began to make a name for himself in a sport he had never played.
"When I first started playing I just wanted to help the team win, I wanted to enjoy it," McElroy said. "That was the plan going into it, [but] after the first couple of weeks I started to realize that I maybe had a chance to do something, to make this work and make a run for it."
The Rams thought so too. McElroy said the club was one of the first to call him, keeping in contact
throughout the pre-draft process and ultimately throughout the college free agency period.
Although McElroy has the least experience of any current players on the roster, head coach Sean McVay believes his athleticism and size will serve him well throughout the offseason.
"Not a lot of football experience, but a lot of upside that you've seen," he said recently. "[Pass game coordinator] Shane Waldron did a great job with kind of being able to study him and get a good feel for him, as somebody we wanted to attack, and identify as someone who was a priority free agent for us."
Plus, being a multi-sport athlete, McElroy is confident that he will be able to pick up the new schemes and information quickly and adjust to his new environment.
"Yesterday and today, it was a ton of information, but they've done a great job of explaining the things to me," he said. "But I think at this position, it's a position that you can take some athletes from other sports and if they have the size and athleticism, teach them some things that they don't know. I think we can make it work."