Toussaint: 'It makes you appreciate it more'

Fitzgerald Toussaint was like any college football player, or really like any football fan out there. When the NFL Draft was on, he watched. He saw the excitement, the energy it brought to the players who were selected, and he couldn't wait for his turn.

Come his senior year at Michigan, Toussaint was hoping for that same feeling. He wanted to be a player who heard his name called, who was drafted by an NFL team and given a shot at his dream. So he watched the 2014 NFL Draft, and nothing happened.

Check out the best photos of RB Fitzgerald Toussaint.

"It was definitely hard for me," said Toussaint. "When you watch it for a number of years and your time is approaching and you see guys on stage, guys having parties, and you are sitting in your living room with no family, not because they didn't want to be there, but because I didn't want them to be there. I didn't hear anything good, so I didn't want to get anybody's hopes up.

"I sat there by myself. I got some calls from people, but that was just about it."

For those who don't get drafted, normally the phone starts ringing shortly thereafter as teams are looking to sign free agents. But there was nothing but silence.

"Anything after that, it didn't happen," said Toussaint. "I was waiting. The draft was over and calls come in for free agents. I didn't get any. My agent called and was confused."

Not knowing if he would have a future in football, Toussaint did what any college graduate would do. He started to look for a job. But then, things started to turn in the right direction for him when he heard from the Baltimore Ravens.

"I got an email that everybody else got that you can come for a tryout," said Toussaint. "I thought the tryout process was way before this, when a team works you out. It was a tryout and I took that personally."

Toussaint did everything he could to make an impression, but he still headed home after the Ravens rookie minicamp without a contract, at least for the time being.

"Going was a breath of fresh air. It was a foot in the door," said Toussaint. "I went to the tryout and ran like a madman and that's how I got noticed. It was crazy how it happened. I went to the minicamp and they were seeing me run hard. But I felt like I was there just to be a body.

"I got home and applied for a job. They didn't call me back. Then I got a call from the Ravens and told me something happened and I could come back. Then the job I applied for called back for an interview, but I was so excited for the opportunity to play I took advantage it."

Toussaint, who was off and on the Ravens roster his rookie season, got his real break when the Steelers signed him to their practice squad before the start of the 2015 season, and added him to the active roster later in the season.

While all ended up well for him, the process of getting there wasn't easy and he will always have a chip on his shoulder.

"Sometimes I don't even like watching the draft," said Toussaint. "It's just crazy. I feel like I was good enough to go through the process. At my pro day I put up numbers that would place in the top four in just about anything. I just didn't get the opportunity.

"I would rather take the route I took now. Not just because I am playing, but because it makes you appreciate it more. That's just how I feel. I was never privileged. That's the way I like it."

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