Tarboro native Shaun Draughn was leaving the Washington Redskins’ practice facility in Virginia on Wednesday evening when he heard the news from a few Edgecombe County friends.
His former coach at North Carolina, Butch Davis, had been fired.
“I was shocked,” said Draughn, who learned of Davis’ firing from former SouthWest Edgecombe and current Tar Heel defensive lineman Linwan Euwell, along with Tarboro High senior Todd Gurley. “Two weeks before camp? I loved coach Davis. He was a no-nonsense type of guy. Everybody respected him. He changed our whole attitude about winning.”
Draughn, a running back who played for Davis from 2007-2010, will enter his first day of an NFL training camp today as a member of the Washington Redskins. A 2006 graduate of Tarboro High, Draughn signed with the Redskins on Tuesday as a rookie free agent after the league ended its 132-day lockout.
Redskins running backs coach Bobby Turner made good on the promise he gave to Draughn prior to, and shortly after, the NFL Draft. Turner said he liked what he had seen of Draughn on film, and the veteran coach said he would be in contact with Draughn after the lockout ended.
True to his word, the two spoke for more than half-an-hour this week as Draughn was trying to make his decision between Washington and other teams that wanted to bring him into camp.
“In the end, that’s what really pushed my decision to go to the Redskins,” Draughn said. “He’s a genuine guy. For him to show all that interest... It was in my best interest to go with them.”
It was an easy geographical decision, too. Draughn has spent the past few months training and living in Maryland, and all it took was a ride in his car Tuesday to sign a contract at the team’s training facility. He took a physical, met Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, and delved into the team’s enormous playbook.
“It’s thicker than a dictionary,” Draughn said.
The 6-foot, 205-pound running back will compete among a number of young running backs for a spot on the team’s 53-man roster. Draughn finished with 2,070 yards and 10 touchdowns in three seasons of playing running back in Chapel Hill.
Today, he will put on an NFL uniform for the first time, and he’ll likely smile for two reasons.
For one, Draughn will be fulfilling the dream of many youngsters who play the game.
Secondly, Draughn grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan, and his parents, Kenneth and Shirley, are fans of America’s Team, too.
Draughn is playing for Dallas’ most fierce rival now, and the family’s allegiance has turned.
“They’ve all been Cowboys fans, but they’re Redskins fans, now,” Draughn said.
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or email@example.com.