For most rookies, the easiest path to the NFL is through the draft, but when you haven't played football in more than three years, sometimes you have to take a slightly less glamorous route to earn a roster spot in the league, which is exactly what Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi did in Cleveland this year.
If you look at the Browns' offseason, their most high-profile addition was definitely Odell Beckham, but if you're looking for the addition with the most improbable story, that would probably be Sheehy-Guiseppi, who basically bluffed his way on to the team.
After spending two seasons playing football at a junior college in Arizona (Phoenix College), including a season where he was an All-American kick returner, Sheehy-Guiseppi's plan was to transfer to an FBS school. However, that dream fell apart when he couldn't find a team that wanted him. Oh, and that wasn't even the worst part: As he explained to Browns.com, he couldn't go back to Phoenix College because he could no longer afford it due to the fact that he didn't have a scholarship, which means his college career ended after the 2016 season.
With no chance at continuing his college career, Sheehy-Guisepp decided he was going to do whatever it would take to earn an NFL tryout.
"I'm going to go to Florida and start with the Tampa Bay Bucs and I'm going to go to every facility I can, go all the way across the country and see if I can just walk in there and give it a shot," he explained, via Cleveland.com.
As you can probably imagine, that plan didn't really work. Although Sheehy-Guiseppi did have unsuccessful tryouts in both the CFL and AFL, he was never able to score an NFL tryout; that is, until he bluffed his way into a workout being put on by Browns' vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith.
Through a friend of a friend, Sheehy-Guiseppi learned of a tryout that was going on in Miami and being put on by Highsmith. After Sheehy-Guiseppi's connection reluctantly gave him the address for the workout, the receiver showed up uninvited and that's when the bluff started.
"I was like 'just give me the address and I'll talk to them myself,'" Sheehy-Guiseppi said. "So I show up and the guy says something to me. He was like 'who are you?'"
"I'm Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi. I'm here for the tryout."
At that point, the receiver said, he knew Highsmith, even though he definitely didn't know the Browns' executive.
"Do you know Alonzo?" an organizer asked.
"'Yeah, I know Alonzo,'" Sheehy-Guiseppi said, via Cleveland.com. "I just knew I had to make it look like we were friends."
The ploy worked because Sheehy-Guiseppi was allowed to stay for the tryout.
"Alonzo was real nice to me," the receiver said.
Once he got in his foot in the door, Sheehy-Guiseppi immediately started to turn some heads. During the workout, his 40 time was clocked at 4.38, which would have been the 11th fastest time of any player at the NFL combine if Sheehy-Guiseppi had attended the event.
Highsmith was so impressed with Sheehy-Guiseppi's speed that he basically decided to give him a tryout with the Browns on the spot.
"He had an excellent workout," Highsmith said, via Browns.com. "Caught punts well, ran fast. I called (Browns assistant general manager) Eliot (Wolf) and I said 'hey, this kid Damon Sheehy, man he ran fast.' He goes 'really?' I said 'yeah, he caught the ball well, I'm thinking we should bring him up.' And then I was like, well, maybe we'll wait, but then I thought about it and Eliot goes 'well let's just bring him in now.'"
Although Sheehy-Guiseppi earned a tryout, that's not where the drama ended. The receiver had to spend another week in Miami, and during that time, he spent two nights sleeping on a grassy patch outside a 24-hour fitness center where he had been working out.
"I went to the laundromat (to charge my phone), used that," Sheehy-Guiseppi said, via Browns.com "(The fitness center) was showing the most love, they kept letting me come back."
During the week before the tryout with the Browns, the reason he was able to eat is because he had his mom order him meals through mobile eating apps.
"I ate like maybe once or twice a day," Sheehy-Guiseppi said, via Browns.com. "I just had to see if I could get a meal that's going to hold me for the whole day."
After impressing Highsmith during the workout in Florida, Sheehy-Guiseppi went on to impress the entire front office, including general manager John Dorsey, during his tryout in Cleveland. Sheehy-Guiseppi was offered a contract and ended up signing with the team on April 5.
"We got a chance to see him for ourselves and you could see all of the explosive movement stuff that Alonzo was talking about," Dorsey said, via Cleveland.com. "Then when you watch him field kicks and punts, you are going, 'OK, he can do this kind of stuff.'"
The most impressive part for Highsmith was the fact that Sheehy-Guiseppi pulled all of this off despite the fact that he hadn't played organized football since the fall of 2016.
"Incredible," Highsmith said, via Browns.com. "To be out of football as long as he's been out, and still have that type of speed? That means he's fast. And now he's eating three square meals a day, sleeping in his own bed. The sky's the limit for him."
During his All-American year at Phoenix College, Sheehy-Guiseppi led the nation in kick return yardage (1,278) and kick return touchdowns (four). His average yardage per kick return of 32.8 also ranked second in the NJCAA.
If Sheehy-Guiseppi can show off those same return skills in Cleveland, he might have a very real chance of making the Browns' roster.