Playing in the NFL is a dream of many youngsters that grow up and go through the football ranks. Unfortunately, only a few get the chance to fulfill their dreams.
Sean McHugh is one of those players that had NFL aspirations, and when the Tennessee Titans drafted him in the seventh round of April's draft, he was one step closer to realizing them. When the Titans informed him that he had been cut just before final rosters were set, McHugh certainly had to be crushed, right?
Well, not exactly.
McHugh, a 6-foot-5, 262-pound tight end out of Penn State said he wasn't shocked when the Titans decided to part ways. His dream may have been altered, but it wasn't over. The Packers picked him up on waivers and signed him to the 53-man roster.
"I wasn't really that shocked when the Titans cut me," McHugh recalled. "They drafted a tight end with their first pick so I knew it would be difficult to make that team. I was more excited when I found out that I got picked up by the Packers."
McHugh isn't new to change, either. When he entered his first season with Penn State, he was fresh off a 2,000-yard rushing season at Chagrin Falls High School in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. The Nittany Lions moved him to tight end only to later shift him to fullback where he became a two-year starter.
Named the team's MVP his senior season, McHugh obviously handled the transition to fullback quite well, but he acknowledged that his days in the backfield are probably over.
"It took awhile to get used to but I think if I have a future in the league, it's going to be as a tight end and not a running back," McHugh said. "It's fine with me, I just want to go out and have a chance to play, it doesn't matter what position that is."
If the release last week of tight end Steve Bush is any indication, the Packers must feel confident in McHugh's ability as a tight end. That move made McHugh number three on the depth chart, but he insists he is happy with any role the team gives him.
"I know I can play special teams and hopefully I will add a little bit of depth to the tight end position," McHugh said. "There's a couple of great tight ends on this team and I just want to sit back and learn from those guys and hopefully I will get better."
Learning on the job wasn't an option with the Titans because their roster was set at tight end, but McHugh is more than happy to be a Packer.
"I think growing up everyone knows about the Packers," McHugh said. "It doesn't matter who you are, or where you live, you know about the Packers. I am learning more and more since I have been here, but it's always one of those teams that you recognize as one of the original great football teams.
"When I first walked into the facility, I was amazed. I just couldn't believe how nice and new everything was. The chance to play with a team with such tradition as the Green Bay Packers, Lambeau Field and everything that goes along with it was pretty exciting."
McHugh's road to the NFL hasn't been free of pitfalls, however. Picking up the offense has been a difficult task for the rookie.
"It's a lot harder than what I thought it would be," McHugh explained. "The offense is completely different from the one I learned in Tennessee. Being a rookie it took me awhile to learn the first offense, and now I have to learn another one so it's definitely going to take me some time."
McHugh said he's not worried about his newest challenge. He lifted the sleeve on his left shoulder to show exactly what he means. That is where he has a tattoo of the letters 'JEM,' the initials of his mother Jeanne E. McHugh, who passed away after battling ovarian cancer.
"She passed away two years ago last February when I was a sophomore in college," McHugh explained. "She's kind of my little angel and watching over me and getting me through all this stuff now. It's just something reminding me that she is always here watching out for me and I am in good hands."
It sounds like McHugh will have more than enough help to fulfill his NFL dream.