Wild journey for NFL hopeful Yurachek
HUNTINGTON - Ryan Yurachek has been chomping at the bit to begin his NFL journey with the Oakland Raiders.
On Sunday, the former Marshall University player’s journey was nearly delayed before it ever began.
After leaving Fayetteville, Ark., at 3 p.m. CDT, Yurachek finally got to California at 1 a.m. PT, which gave him enough time to unload his belongings and catch about four hours of sleep prior to the team catching the bus for its trip to the Napa Valley Training Complex.
“I got booted off one flight, scrambled to find a way to get on another, so it was great,” Yurachek said tongue-in-cheek. “It started with me leaving Fayetteville with lots of excitement and now, I just ended up mad as I could be. It’s all good, though.”
It continues what has been a wild ride to an NFL training camp for Yurachek, who originally signed with the New Orleans Saints on May 14 and was released June 14. Yurachek flew to Oakland for a June 22 workout and signed with the Raiders, adding another West Virginia tie to the Oakland roster, which makes six in all.
Yurachek joins Lee Smith as former Marshall players on the roster, West Virginia University has three former players - Bruce Irvin, Daryl Worley and Karl Joseph - with the Raiders and Charleston native Ryan Switzer is now in Oakland.
Yurachek, who said he’s already been texting back and forth with Smith, joined with the team’s quarterbacks, rookies and other first-year players for a pre-camp warmup Monday for new new players to get acclimated prior to veterans arriving Thursday.
For Yurachek, this three-day period is crucial, considering he did not take part in Offseason Training Activities with the Raiders.
Everything was a new experience for Yurachek - right down to the handshake of Jemal Singleton, his new running backs coach.
“I hadn’t met my position coach yet - just talked to him on the phone a couple of times,” Yurachek said. “I got my Oakland playbook a couple of weeks ago and I’m trying to learn as much as I can. We have three days before the vets get there, so it will be good for me to get in there with the coach, get in those meetings and work.”
Yurachek is one of several former Marshall players taking their first snaps in NFL training camps.
Much like Yurachek, former Marshall quarterback Chase Litton left home in Florida on Sunday to fly into Kansas City for Monday’s start of the Chiefs’ training camp. Litton is expected to be locked in a tight battle for the No. 3 quarterback spot in Kansas City with Matt McGloin.
Patrick Mahomes is listed as the Chiefs’ starter and NFL veteran Chad Henne is expected to be the No. 2 quarterback.
After leaving Marshall early, Litton signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent and went to work with the team during the offseason in hopes of taking advantage of his given repetitions.
Even though those repetitions were limited, head coach Andy Reid did throw praise toward Litton at the end of a mandatory mini-camp, USA Today newspaper reported.
“I thought he stayed on top of it,” Reid said. “I thought he did a good job. You could tell that he had worked and studied.”
Now, Litton hopes momentum from that mini-camp continues as he gets underway with the quarterbacks this week prior to the full team taking the field Thursday at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo.
“It’s everything you dream of and everything you work for,” Litton said. “I’m excited to be around teammates and around guys who all have the same goal and who want to win.
“I was around those guys at Marshall and, for the two months that I was in KC for OTAs, you can tell it’s the same way there. They want to win, they expect to win and they work for that. You have guys that give their life for this and I’m excited.”
While Yurachek and Litton are just getting started in training camp, former Marshall kicker Kaare Vedvik and former Herd safety C.J. Reavis have been at it for nearly one week with the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars respectively.
Vedvik is battling for a special teams spot with a veteran Baltimore group led by kicker Justin Tucker and punter Sam Koch - both of whom have been with the Ravens for a long time. Koch was a sixth-round pick of the Ravens in 2006 and is 35 years old entering the season, meaning the Ravens have to assess their future at the punter spot soon.
Baltimore is taking part in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2, which allows the Ravens an extra week of training camp because of playing a fifth preseason game. That is additional time Vedvik can make his mark on the coaching staff.
Reavis quietly turned in an impressive performance during OTAs with the Jaguars to vault himself into the coaches’ eyes as an undrafted rookie that stood out. According to Mike Kaye, the Jaguars’ beat writer for First Coast News, Reavis immediately made his presence felt with an interception on the first day of OTAs and ended with two during the sessions.