Former Packer phenom turned Bison football star Tyler Roehl is far from giving up on his NFL dream, especially now that he's already lived part of it.
No matter what happens in the injured fullback's future, he can always say he was the first West Fargo High player ever to be a professional football player and that he was part of an NFL team.
And he still is. After not getting selected in the NFL draft, Roehl signed a two-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks in April. He tore his left ACL on June 1, during a non-contact kickoff drill with the Seahawks. Roehl was placed on the Injured Reserve List and has already undergone surgery and begun rehab.
"I was running down field, and I just planted wrong and my knee just went. I knew that it wasn't good," said Roehl. "I didn't know if it was just going to be a bad strain, but I new it wouldn't be a short-term deal."
Roehl had spent the prior weeks lifting weights with a handful of other rookies and ran drills and participated in on-field organized team activities with the team's established players, mostly NFL veterans. He noted that he saw a marked difference in the quality of the game.
"You could tell the speed of the game was a lot faster," he said. "The offense is complex. You have to be able to do stuff on the run."
Roehl, a featured back his last two seasons with the Bison, worked out mostly as a fullback with the Seahawks. Fellow free agent signee Devin Moore, from Wyoming, was the team's rookie running back. Roehl said regular Seattle fullback Owen Schmidt, a second-year player out of West Virginia, showed him some of the area's sights, including the Space Needle and area museums.
Tyler Roehl was a busy man for the Seahawks prior to his injury, starting daily at 7 am when he'd be in a van on his way from the hotel to breakfast with other players before a day of meetings, practices and weight lifting. He even chatted with Super Bowl veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
"He's very nice, he'd answer our questions," said Roehl. "(Other players) would give you feedback that you would want and share their stories of how they made it. Not all the superstars make it the first time. Some get cut their first year and some start right away. But it's a process."
The immediate future was uncertain for Roehl at press time earlier this week. He was still unsure where he would be going this week to continue his rehab. Roehl said he might stay in Seattle or head home and that he probably won't be 100 percent until January.
"I know it's going to be a long process, whether I'm around family or friends or not," said Roehl.
One thing is for certain - Tyler Roehl wants another shot at his dream. You'd be hard pressed to find someone in this area that doesn't think he deserves one and isn't pulling for him. After all, he's the local boy done good who once wore Packer green and white and ran the ball for Jay Gibson.
Roehl isn't ready to give it up.
"I feel like I belong at this level, in practice, and playing with all the guys, I just feel like I belong," said Roehl. "I know I can do it. It's just going to be a long process."
He said the team medical care he's getting has been "top of the line" and that he may try to get an internship in coaching or strength and conditioning while he rehabs, saying "I might as well stay busy instead of just doing rehab." Meanwhile, he's playing the waiting game, hoping for the best in his uncertain future.
"It's kind of complicated," he said. "I may get a shot to come back and try it, or else they may say, 'He tore his ACL, he may not be back to form' and get released. After the next physical...I'll just wait and see. Hopefully I can get another shot."