ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Jake Rudock took the snap, dropped back and surveyed the field. It was a hot summer day during the first week of August, and the former Michigan quarterback was in the midst of training camp for the Detroit Lions.
Rudock found his target and threw a short pass into the flat — what proved to be a dangerous choice, as his pass hit the hands of his defender, who had a clear lane for a pick-six.
But Rudock was lucky this time around, and the ball glanced off the defender’s hands into the hands of his intended target, who turned and burst upfield as the play ended.
By most accounts, it has been a learning experience for Rudock as he adjusts to the heightened intensity and pace of the professional game.
Once the leader and veteran in the locker room, Rudock is now among the youngest — and certainly least experienced — players on the team after being drafted by the Lions in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft.
Being drafted was the least of Rudock’s concerns after a slow start to his senior year. But as time went on, he grew more comfortable in Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh’s system, and by the end of the season, the graduate transfer from Iowa was firing on all cylinders.
Like Rudock, many didn’t expect former Michigan center Graham Glasgow to reach the league, either. After all, Glasgow was once a walk-on — a player lightly recruited and underappreciated. But he, too, found his feet in Ann Arbor and developed into a multi-year starter, someone who earned the praise of both Harbaugh and his position coach and coordinator, Tim Drevno.
That praise from his coaches, both of whom have numerous NFL connections, was perhaps part of the reason why Glasgow was selected in the third round — also by the Lions.
Now, the two are teammates and roommates as they each seek to make it onto the roster.
They’ve found that it’s a bit different from last year’s camp, where they were also roommates.
“The speed of the game is faster,” Glasgow said Friday afternoon. “The guys you’re playing against are fantastic players. And the guys you’re playing with are fantastic players.”
Glascow said with a smirk that he has “borderline love” for his fellow offensive linemen, acknowledging that he already has a strong connection with his teammates.
To Rudock, camp with the Lions shared some similarities with those of Iowa and Michigan, where he said the coaches at both schools took an “NFL approach” to fall camp. Glasgow agreed, noting that camps led by Harbaugh are similar in intensity to the NFL.
But Rudock also labeled the NFL as a “different animal,” where things are faster and defenses “do more.” So he’s taking things slowly, play-by-play, as he tries to soak it all in.
“I’m a young guy really trying to learn right now,” Rudock said. “I’m not worried about (the depth chart). We’re focused on the play that I’ve got, and trying to make that the best play that we can.”
Added Glasgow: “It’s been a really good experience working with the guys that I’ve been able to work with. I’m just very lucky that I have veterans that are willing to help me.”