Chris Bazile could have just walked the seven blocks from his house in Metairie to Saints’ minicamp Tuesday.
And trust me, as amped as Bazile is about getting this chance, he probably would have.
You could see it on his face Tuesday after the first of three days of minicamp.
“It’s amazing to be in the locker room with these guys, feeling the level of competition,” Bazile said. “The game is fast, way different from college football. I’m loving it right now.”
Bazile, who played at Grambling, is one of 13 tryout players in the mix looking to land a spot on the roster.
But this isn’t just any roster. This is the roster of the team he grew up watching.
He’s in his hometown, but even more important, in his own backyard.
Bazile played his high school ball less than a mile away from the Saints’ training facility at East Jefferson, where he was a quarterback who could “throw it a country mile” according to his high school coach Nick Saltaformaggio.
He played quarterback as a freshman before being moved to tight end as a sophomore when Saltaformaggio took over.
Bazile grew up going to Saints games from the time he was 7 or 8 years old.
So you can only imagine what it was like the first time he walked in the locker room with all the other guys he grew up watching.
“I was pretty nervous,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘These dudes are really big.’ They play for the Saints, and that’s what I’m working toward. Playing for the home team.”
Bazile, by the way, isn’t small. He’s listed at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds.
He caught a pass from backup Luke McCown in Tuesday’s scrimmage. For most, it was probably just a meaningless pass during a meaningless practice.
But not to Bazile.
“My first one,” he said. “I was pretty excited about it.”
It came on Day One, which also happened to be the same day Bazile received a copy of the Saints’ playbook.
“It’s a lot of information you have to learn, so you’re just taking that to the field,” he said. “It’s like taking 21 hours in college. That’s what it’s like.”
But Bazile doesn’t mind learning. That’s why he’s taking online courses to finish is master’s degree from online while also soaking up the Saints playbook.
He planned to study the playbook even more Tuesday night and then be even better on Wednesday.
He knows the odds are stacked against guys like him who go undrafted. But he also knows there’s a chance. He can just look at Chester Rogers, his former teammate at Grambling. Rogers, a receiver, went undrafted as well but signed as a free agent with the Indianapolis Colts. The two talk every day.
“It motivates me that he made it,” said Bazile. “I just dream about it, waking up and just ready to be next to these guys with that uniform on. I just want to ball out. I sacrificed my whole life to be here.”
He is one of seven tight ends at minicamp. The team likely will keep three or four tight ends. You’d assume guys like Coby Fleener, Michael Hoomanawanui, and Josh Hill would probably make the cut.
But Bazile did enough in rookie camp to get invited back. And for now, that’s good enough for him.
He hasn’t put much thought much about any plans if he doesn’t end up playing for his hometown team.
“I always stick to Plan A,” he said. “I always stick to, ‘I’m gonna make it, I’m gonna make it.’ I can’t give up. I’m never going to give up until I finally tell myself, ‘Now it’s time to go to Plan B.’ But I’m sticking to plan A now. And that’s playing in the NFL.”