Rookie Shoots To Catch a Spot With Redskins

By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 7, 2006

Mike Espy has never put on a Washington Redskins uniform but says he feels at home here. Unlike the other 88 hopefuls invited to Redskins Park for this weekend's three-day rookie camp, Espy knows Washington intimately for its other passion, besides the Redskins: politics.

Espy is the son of Mike Espy, a former agriculture secretary and the first African American elected to Congress from Mississippi since Reconstruction. He resigned from his cabinet post in 1994 amid charges of bribery, but was later acquitted.

"When my dad was doing his thing with Congress, we were always up here," the Redskins' prospect said. "Washington was like a second home to me. The Redskins were my favorite team and I would love to have something happen here."

Espy, a wide receiver, faces long odds. He played all four years at Ole Miss, finishing with 1,779 yards, but after starting all 13 games as a sophomore, he started only nine of 22 games as a junior and senior. Still, he expected to be drafted. Though the receiver class was considered relatively weak this year, Espy was not taken. "The draft was disappointing," he said. "To go through the whole process was difficult. But I'm here to make the best of this opportunity."

Espy said he could have gone to rookie camps in San Francisco, Baltimore or Green Bay, but that his connection with the area and desire to play for the Redskins were the decisive factors.

"Santana Moss is my favorite player," he said. "That's a person I can't wait to meet and learn from. I've patterned much of my game after him."

Still, with the offseason acquisitions of Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd, as well as the presence of Moss, wide receiver will be the most difficult position to crack. Espy would have to impress the receivers coaches and stand out on special teams.

"It is very early to tell, but I like some of the things I see," said Redskins wide receiver coach Stan Hixon. "He seems to have a presence about him."

Notes: Espy isn't the only NFL hopeful with a famous father. The St. Louis Rams signed John David Washington, son of movie star Denzel Washington, last week as an undrafted free agent. . . .

Redskins fifth-round draft pick Anthony Montgomery pulled his hamstring and did not complete yesterday's drills. . . . Marshall rookie cornerback Chris Hawkins injured his shoulder, according to Redskins assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams. . . . The number of rookies was reduced yesterday to 72, down from 89 on the first day of camp.

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