In March, NFL hopeful Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi slept outside on a patch of grass for two nights. He slept another night in a fitness center. He charged his phone at a laundromat, and he ate only once or twice per day.

With a potential workout with the Cleveland Browns only a few days away, Sheehy-Guiseppi, 24, said he couldn’t afford a hotel or temporary apartment in Miami.

Then the wide receiver left a lasting impression: He slipped his way into a tryout and ran a 4.38 40-yard dash. He’s still a long shot to make the team, but in his first NFL preseason game, he capped his improbable journey with an 86-yard punt-return touchdown Thursday night in the Browns’ 30-10 preseason win over the Washington Redskins.

“Throughout the week, (coaches) said you’re going to get a chance to return no matter what in the game,” Sheehy-Guiseppi said Thursday night, via “I didn’t know when it was going to be, but then it was the fourth quarter and he said, ‘You’ve got the next punt return.’ I was like, ‘Alright, it’s my turn,’ and I was just excited.”

Sheehy-Guiseppi didn’t receive any scholarship offers out of high school. He played junior college football at Phoenix College in Arizona, where he became an all-American in 2016, leading the nation in kick return yardage (1,278) and kick return touchdowns (four).

He sent his tape to SEC and Big 12 programs but didn’t pique their interest. His attempts to play in the CFL and Arena Football League were unsuccessful. As of March, he had been out of organized football for two years.

And then, according to, Sheehy-Guiseppi arrived at a Browns tryout in Miami and tried to talk his way onto an NFL roster.

“Who are you?” he was asked.

““I’m Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi. I’m here for the tryout.”

“Do you know Alonzo?”

“Yeah, I know Alonzo.”

By then, he’d made his way in. He Googled who “Alonzo” was — Browns Vice President of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith — and then he shined in his tryout, running what would have been the sixth-fastest 40 time at the 2019 NFL combine.

“He had an excellent workout,” Highsmith said, via the team’s website. “Caught punts well, ran fast. I called [Browns assistant general manager] Eliot (Wolf) and I said ‘hey, this kid Damon Sheehy, man he ran fast.’ He goes ‘really?’ I said ‘yeah, he caught the ball well, I’m thinking we should bring him up.’”

The Browns are dealing with something new this season: lofty expectations. The wide receiver group is crowded with talent and experience, headlined by new arrival Odell Beckham Jr. But Sheehy-Guiseppi could still earn a roster spot via special teams.

And so after his fourth-quarter touchdown Thursday night, teammates mobbed him in the end zone.

“It is good to see good people, hard-working good people succeed,” Browns Coach Freddie Kitchens said Thursday night. “He definitely fits the bill with being that. If you stick around after any practice, you will see him on the practice field getting extra running in and before practice getting extra work in. He is always at the office. He is a good kid.”

Read more: