The Washington Redskins have signed four more players over the last few days to reserve/futures contracts. Last week the team officially announced the signing of 8 players who ended the 2014 season on the Redskins practice squad. On Wednesday the team signed DB Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith and DT LaKendrick Ross. Cromartie-Smith was signed by the Redskins during the preseason and spent three weeks with the team and was then waived on 8/29. He spent most of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, along with a short stint in the CFL. LaKendrick Ross(6'5", 360 lbs) entered the NFL Supplemental Draft in 2014 after being ruled ineligible for the 2014 season at Virginia University of Lynchburg. He was not selected, but he did sign with the Cincinnati Bengals in July. He was waived during the final cutdown week, and did not play this year. He was featured in a SBNation story last summer about his past and his journey to the NFL
The Supplemental Draft is the back door into the league for players without college eligibility remaining for one reason or another. Generally the players have spotty records on and/or off the field, stories to be checked, questions to be answered. For Ross, the story reads like Michael Oher, without the first-round ending, and it's the reason that his nickname is "Blindside."
"I've been in group homes and foster homes all of my life, since I was 11 or 12," said Ross. "I'm originally from North Carolina and my mom passed when I was 12. She had six kids and when she passed, no one in our family would take us or let us live with them. So we came up to Virginia Beach and I stayed with my aunt. When I stayed with her, there was abuse in the household. With the abuse at home and me being up all night, I guess it was affecting my ability in school. I got a counseling appointment and they started seeing whips on my chest and my face. Then they started doing investigations and stuff and they found abuse in the home and then that's when I was placed in the group home."
From there, Ross jumped from group home to group home, moving from his childhood in North Carolina to several group homes in Virginia and even Savannah, Georgia. As a young boy, he didn't want to be away from his home state and ran away from several group homes. Even once, he caught a bus back to North Carolina, only to be taken by the police to his first stint in a juvenile detention center.
"I just kept running away," said Ross. "I'd ran away from the one in Virginia Beach and caught a bus to North Carolina. The police had stopped me down there and put me into a detention center. It was just like jail where you're in a cell all day. I was there for three months, and then the police from Virginia Beach came and got me and sent me to another group home in Petersburg, Virginia. I stayed there for about six months and then went to two more group homes in Savannah, Georgia. I stayed there for about a year."
Those constant changes are only a few of the 11 total group homes and foster situations that Ross has lived in. In addition, Ross has done well to avoid the negative circumstances his family members have fallen into.
"My cousins and brothers are all in prison," he said. "My sister's in prison for life right now for murder. My brother's in jail for dealing drugs."
Two more players were signed to reserve/futures contracts by the Redskins yesterday. DE/OLB James Gayle(6'3", 255 lbs) played college football at Virginia Tech and went undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft. At last year's Combine he said most teams were looking at him as a 3-4 Outside Linebacker, after playing defensive end in Virginia Tech's 4-3 defense. Gayle missed the Senior Bowl due to a shoulder injury that he dealt with during his senior season. He was signed by the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent, but he was waived/injured in June due to his shoulder injury, and then released from the Titans injured reserve with an injury settlement. Gayle had shoulder surgery on June 12th, and the injury will be a concern going into next season's workouts.
Here is a video of Gayle going against Redskins RT Morgan Moses in college:
The other player signed by the team was DE Kenneth Horsley, a Newport News, VA native. Horsely( 6' 6", 295 lbs, 26 years old) played college football at Mesabi Range Community College and has played in the CFL for the Toronto Argonauts.
[UPDATE: 1/5/2015 4:10 PM] The Redskins officially announced the signing of these 4 players and one previously unreported player.
Redskins sign 6-6, 205-pound WR Braylon Bell (Abilene Christian) to futures deal.— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) January 5, 2015