The Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi story is an amazing one.
The young wide receiver had been a junior college All-American kick returner at Phoenix College, but left the school in 2016 when he did not receive a scholarship. Sheehy-Guiseppi toured numerous Division I universities in hopes of getting a shot, but only one school even bothered to watch his tape.
His trip to these schools did cost him a lot of money and also turn up some bad news: Sheehy-Guiseppi had just one year of eligibility remaining, but was nine credits short of being able to transfer. He didn’t have enough money to transfer, so he decided he just needed to go pro.
“I’m going to go to Florida and start with the Tampa Bay Bucs and I’m going to go to every facility I can, go all the way across the country and see if I can just walk in there and give it a shot,” he said to reporters, including Scott Patsko of Cleveland.com.
Sheehy-Guiseppi stayed in Arizona for a year, training to become a better player while also looking for opportunities. He soon drove to Las Vegas for a CFL tryout, paid the hefty $100 fee to participate, ran a 40, did his workout … and nothing. What happened next disappointed him greatly.
“We don’t really take anybody off the tryouts,” he was told.
“So you’re telling me that out of the 100 cases here that tried out, you’re not going to take any of them?” he asked.
“Yeah, we already have a full team.”
“So there was no point.”
But patience paid off, as he got some good news earlier this year when a friend of his knew of an NFL workout in Miami. The only problem was that it was invite-only, and Sheehy-Guiseppi wasn’t invited. Still, he got the address and headed to Florida.
His friend told him to look for Alonzo Highsmith, the Browns’ vice president of player personnel. The non-invite arrived in Miami to a bunch of confusion from the staff at the tryout.
Who are you?”
“I’m Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi. I’m here for the tryout.”
“Do you know Alonzo?”
“Yeah, I know Alonzo.”
He was in. But to fortify his story, he ran over to Highsmith to him and introduced himself.
“I just knew I had to make it look like we were friends,” Sheehy-Guiseppi said. “Alonzo was real nice to me.”
And believe it or not, he was one of the best players at the tryout. He ran fast, he caught punts, and he caught passes. He also caught Highsmith’s attention. The Browns executive called Sheehy-Guiseppi just minutes after the tryout and gave him an official invite to a tryout in Ohio.
That was great and all, but the tryout was days away and he couldn’t afford housing for a week. So he slept outside two different places in Ohio (a fitness center and a training facility) and spent his time away in the facilities preparing for his tryout.
Train. Sleep. That was his agenda for the full week prior to his workout.
“Then we got a chance to see him for ourselves and you could see all of the explosive movement stuff that Alonzo was talking about,” said Browns general manager John Dorsey. “Then when you watch him field kicks and punts, you are going, ‘OK, he can do this kind of stuff. He has not played in a couple of years, but it will not be because of lack of determination because this is a very determined young man.”
Sheehy-Guiseppi became a member of the Browns on April 5.
He understands he’s a lonsghot to make the roster, realizing that the NFL isn’t just catching the ball and running fast.
Of course, he did some of that last night.
In Cleveland’s preseason opener against the Redskins, Sheehy-Guiseppi showed off his speed as he returned a punt for an 86-yard touchdown. Many of his teammates, well aware of his story, ran to the end zone to celebrate this emotional and miraculous feat.
And, of course, there’s another small and fun tidbit to the story. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo
, Sheehy-Guiseppi couldn’t find his cleats prior to the game, so his teammate and new friend, Odell Beckham, Jr., let him wear his.
Who knows if Sheehy-Guiseppi will stay in Cleveland beyond this summer, but one thing is certain: follow your dreams and don’t give up until you’ve reached your goals.