Bart Johnson has a backup plan, but the former TCU receiver still is living his dream despite the NFL's four-month lockout.
Johnson has been working out with some of his former teammates at TCU in hopes of getting a chance in the NFL. He and other undrafted rookies were left out in the cold when the NFL locked out its players.
"I'm feeling pretty confident that I'm going to be able to sign with a team once they get all the stuff done," Johnson said. "I've been watching a lot of ESPN, trying to keep up with it."
The undrafted rookies are caught in the middle of the NFL owners' rift with the players.
Johnson, Texas offensive tackle Kyle Hix, TCU center Jake Kirkpatrick, Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, TCU receiver Jimmy Young, Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M center Matt Allen, Arkansas guard Ray Dominguez, Nebraska kicker Adi Kunalic and Texas Tech defensive lineman Colby Whitlock are among players who went undrafted in April and have been patiently working out since. All expect to have an NFL home in a few days, ending their long wait, though staying on the roster will be more difficult than ever.
"There are a whole class of rookies out there that didn't get drafted who are all kind of waiting to find out which team they're going to," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "This class is faced with the challenges of making rosters without any off-season.... This is the one year, and this will hopefully be the only year, we're going to have to go through this. It's just unfortunate for them."
For the players who weren't drafted in the Class of 2011, it was just their bad luck. They were not allowed to have contact with the NFL once the seven-round draft ended.
"That's something you can't control as a player," A&M ex Allen said. "Even though it's hard, and you wish it could have been a different year, you've got to roll with the punches and wait and see where you end up."
TCU ex Johnson was accepted to SMU's law school, but he deferred his acceptance for a year in hopes of making an NFL team. The Jaguars, Colts and Patriots are teams that expressed an interest before and during the draft.
"I'm going to chase my football, chase that dream, and see what happens," Johnson said. "I know if worse comes to worst, there's always the backup plan for next fall."
NFL rosters include many undrafted players who have made it big, including Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Brian Waters, Wes Welker, James Harrison and Antonio Gates. In 2010, 51 undrafted players made opening-day rosters.
But without an off-season to learn the playbook and impress coaches, this year's undrafted class of rookies faces a tougher road to the roster.
"I've always had a dream to play in the NFL," said Allen, who has been working out with former teammate Lucas Patterson at A&M. "I'm not going to give up on that until I know for sure it's not an option anymore.... I've still got a chance, and that's all you want."