Getting to Know Tryout Players

Lyerla (Getty Images)

"You want them to come in and have something jump out at you," coach Mike McCarthy said of the 28 hopefuls participating at this week's rookie camp.

Just call it May Madness, with the players going for "One Shining Moment."

The Green Bay Packers invited 28 players to compete on a tryout basis at this week's rookie orientation camp. Maybe three or four of them will be given a contract, which guarantees nothing other than a chance to compete during the offseason practices and, perhaps, into training camp.

There are big-school players like Oregon's Colt Lyerla, whose drank stock sunk like a rock. There are feel-good stories, like Wisconsin-Whitewater's Cole Klotz. There are small-school stars, like FCS All-American guard Jamal Ellis of Newberry. And there are players seeking a second chance.

"You want them to come in and have something jump out at you," coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's not how many balls you catch, not how many completions you have, not how many balls you break up. You're looking for movement ability, you're looking for fit, you're looking for someone that has something special or something you feel can add to the football team."

Here is a little bit about the Packers' tryout players.

Quarterback

Jacob Karam, Memphis: Graduated from Texas Tech in 2011. Set Memphis record with 64.1 percent accuracy in 2012 but couldn't hold onto the starting job and played in just three games in 2013. He earned off-the-field acclaim if not on-the-field stardom.

Running backs

James Sims, Kansas: Ranks third in school history with 3,592 rushing yards and second with 34 rushing touchdowns. He was first-team all-Big 12 as a senior while becoming the first player in school history with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Chris Rycraw, Ouachita Baptist: Rushed for 955 yards and 13 touchdowns while playing in nine of 10 games. Added 25 catches for the Division II school.

Fullback

Jeremy Eddington, Rice: For his career, he rushed for 627 yards (4.8 average) and 14 touchdowns. Incredibly, the 250-pounder moonlighted as a kickoff returner and had a 97-yard touchdown against UTEP.

Receivers

Nick Truesdell, Cincinnati: Lyerla isn't the only player who got into legal problems because of drugs, leaving him with almost no collegiate resume. The 6-foot-5 receiver was in the Bengals' rookie camp last year. Wilson Van Hooser, Troy: Van Hooser transferred from Tulane to be closer to his mom, who was battling health issues. Travis Van Leeuwen, Utah State: Caught 52 passes for 661 yards and three touchdowns as a senior. Cole Stanford, Cal Poly: Played linebacker as a freshman before moving to offense. He caught 25 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns as a senior slotback.

Tight ends

Lyerla and Ike Ariguzo, Eastern Kentucky: Playing as a wide receiver, he caught 20 passes for 256 yards and five scores as a senior.

Offensive line

Jamal Ellis, G, Newberry: He was an All-American left guard. DaShawn Johnson, G, William Patterson: Started 33 games, including at left tackle as a senior. He was second-team all-conference for the Division III program. Theo Goins, G, Central Florida: Started 29 games in his career and spent time with Atlanta last year. He said football saved his life. Rico Forbes, T, Washington State: Started five games at right tackle as a senior; missed all of 2012 with a leg injury.

Defensive line

Ted Ouellet, DE, Bowling Green: Earned all-MAC honors in each of final two seasons. Luther Robinson, DE, Miami: Started three games in his three seasons and had 40 tackles for his career. L.T. Tuipulotu, DT, Utah: His strong senior season included 42 tackles (three for losses) while starting 11 games.

Linebackers

Cole Klotz, Wisconsin-Whitewater: He looks the part at 6-foot-3 1/2, 245 pounds. He ran in 4.75 at Wisconsin and 4.72 at Whitewater. As a senior, he was one of four finalists for the Gagliardi Trophy, which is the Division III equivalent of the Heisman, and was named the WIAC's player of the year. He had 103 tackles, including 11.5 for losses, for the national champs. Demetrius Hartsfield, Maryland: Back for his second go-around with the Packers after having an in-season tryout last year. His 2012 ended with a late-season knee injury. He had 338 tackles for his career. Shaun Lewis, Oklahoma State: Lewis was a two-time all-Big 12 selection, including a first-team choice as a senior with 73 tackles and three interceptions. He started the last 45 games of his career. Nate Dreiling, Pittsburg State: A four-time All-American, he ranks third in Division II history with 491 career tackles. Brandon Denmark, Florida A&M: Four sacks, 12 tackles for losses and two forced fumbles as a senior. He played at Illinois for Ron Zook and transferred when Zook was dismissed.

Defensive backs

Charles Clay, CB, Hawaii: Clay played receiver for SMU for two seasons. He started six games at safety as a senior and was fourth on the team with 69 tackles. Demetruce McNeal, S, West Alabama: Started for Auburn in 2011 and 2012 but was dismissed after a marijuana arrest; he said it belonged to an unnamed teammate. At West Alabama, he had 63 tackles and three interceptions in 2013. Greg Worthy, S, Furman: The three-year starter tallied 132 tackles and forced three fumbles as a senior.

Specialists

Vincenzo D'Amato, K, California: Made 72.7 percent of his attempts for his career with a long of 52 yards. As a senior, he mad 17-of-20 (85 percent). Paul Layton, P, Temple: Spent his first three seasons at Albany before going to Temple for his senior season, when he averaged 42.8 per kick. Bryan Whitaker, LS, Youngstown State: Went undrafted and was out of the league in 2013.

In case you missed them, here are the undrafted free agents who were signed to contracts.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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