Ex-Senator, Gator Thurman eyes Bengals tryout

“I’ll take any opportunity I can get," Trip Thurman said. "I kind of had to choose which one where I felt like I had the best shot and they liked me the most — and that was the Bengals. I’m hoping to come away with a contract and, if not, I’ll go back to the drawing board.” (Florida Gators photo)

“I’ll take any opportunity I can get,” Trip Thurman said. “I kind of had to choose which one where I felt like I had the best shot and they liked me the most — and that was the Bengals. I’m hoping to come away with a contract and, if not, I’ll go back to the drawing board.” (Florida Gators photo)

DOVER — Every time his phone rang on Saturday, Trip Thurman’s heart would jump a little.

The former Dover High football standout knew he wasn’t a surefire NFL draft pick.

But, still, there was a chance he’d get taken.

Trip Thurman

Trip Thurman

And sure enough, as Thurman watched the draft at his family’s Dover home, a few NFL teams called.

“We muted the TV and everybody was quiet in the room,” said Thurman. “It was definitely suspenseful.”

Those calls, however, were just from NFL teams checking on the status of the recent Florida grad. Thurman never did see his name up on the TV screen as a draft pick.

But the 6-foot-6, 330-pound offensive lineman will still get his NFL chance after the Bengals offered him a tryout in their rookie camp this weekend.

Thurman originally had the chance at signing a free-agent contract but decided to see what other opportunities came up. He also was invited to rookie camp by the Steelers and Buccaneers.

Thurman had worked out for the Bengals and had been talking with the team since mid-March. He said Cincinnati liked his versatility — he played almost every spot on the offensive line during his Florida career.

“That’s what opened the door for me,” said Thurman. “I’ll take any opportunity I can get. … I kind of had to choose which one where I felt like I had the best shot and they liked me the most — and that was the Bengals.

“I’m hoping to come away with a contract and, if not, I’ll go back to the drawing board.”

While Thurman was successful with the Gators, he also had to deal with a couple shoulder surgeries. But moments like this make Thurman glad that he stuck with the demanding sport.

“It definitely makes it seem worth it when you get an opportunity like this,” said Thurman.

Now that he’s had a chance to let his body heal since the end of the season, Thurman feels like he’s ready to go again.

On Monday, he was working out at Dover High, getting ready for this weekend. He knows he has to do everything at full speed with the Bengals if he wants them to keep him around.

All the other players there will be trying to accomplish the same thing.

“You’ve definitely got to be prepared,” said Thurman. “You don’t want to go there out of shape. You want to go there, running to every drill, making sure you’re doing everything in the right way. It’s definitely a big opportunity.

“I’ve been trying to get in the best shape I can for any opportunity that came along — and this is it right here. I feel like I’m ready for it.”

Just getting this chance, Thurman knows he’s already beat some odds. Guys like running back Mike Meade (drafted by the Packers in 1982) and offensive lineman Joe Spadafino, who had a free-agent tryout, are the only other former Dover High football players to get this far in recent years.

“I’m so stoked to have this opportunity coming from where I came from,” said Thurman. “Not many people in Dover can say they had a shot.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.