Entering his senior season at the University of Virginia, Joe Torchia seemed primed for a strong audition for any NFL team searching for a tight end.
After recording just 15 receptions for 150 yards and two touchdowns in 2009, the 6-foot-6, 260-pound blocking tight end kicked off the 2010 season by tallying nine receptions for 119 yards in his first three games.
But in one play, Torchia’s tryout ended prematurely. After extending his arm to chip a blitzing cornerback, Torchia suffered a season-ending torn labrum.
“I had a goal ever since I was a kid to play in the NFL and I wasn’t going to let this injury stop me,” said Torchia, who signed with the Redskins as an undrafted free agent Sunday. “I just had to keep working and persevere through everything.”
Torchia spent the six months after surgery rehabilitating his shoulder in an attempt to keep his childhood dream alive, spending six days a week improving his shoulder strength and overall conditioning to prepare for an unlikely leap the NFL.
His pre-draft rank dropped to 31st of the 71 tight ends in the 2011 NFL draft, according to NFL Draft Scout, and his phone never rang during the seven rounds of selections. But Torchia showed enough potential at the NFL combine and on film to pique the interest of the Redskins, who signed him as an undrafted free agent. He made his training camp debut with the team Monday morning.
“It’s a lot of information to take in, but I’ve been doing a pretty good job,” Torchia said. “I couldn’t ask for a better place. It’s great. You have a familiarity with the area and you feel tied to the area, spending the last five years down at Virginia.”
Torchia said veterans Chris Cooley and Fred Davis have helped him negotiate training camp, where he is competing for three roster spots with his mentors, as well as Logan Paulsen and Mike Sellers. It’s a long shot for the rookie, but Torchia is accustomed to overcoming the odds.
“It’s been a long road, a tough road, but ultimately my goal is to make the team,” Torchia said. “I just want to get better and to prove to the coaches that I belong in the NFL. That’s something I can do and hopefully I will do.”