Troy Woolfolk finally listens to father, Butch, before Detroit Lions camp
Troy Woolfolk is only two weeks into his pro career, and the former Michigan football defensive back already has fallen victim to the realities of the NFL.
The reality being there are oodles of talented players, fighting for only a handful of roster spots. As an undrafted free agent, his battle to stick is even tougher.
Woolfolk, who started for the Wolverines last year at cornerback and safety, was signed by the Dallas Cowboys shortly after the conclusion of last month's draft. He was cut after the club's rookie camp last week, though, when Dallas decided it needed a veteran safety who could play right away.
Woolfolk then landed in the Detroit Lions' rookie camp this past weekend, where he tried to apply the lessons he learned in Dallas.
Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com
"Going into the Cowboys' camp, I was really nervous and wasn't really paying attention to what was going on," Woolfolk told reporters. "Here, I've got more sense of calmness.
"I feel like it's my second go-around, so it's always less nerve-racking when you come around the second time."
He's also learned to trust his father.
Butch Woolfolk is a Michigan legend, and remains fifth on the school's all-time rushing list. He went on to play seven years in the NFL, including with the Lions in 1987 and '88.
He tried to dispense advice to his son before the Cowboys camp.
"He told me it was going to be fast, he told us they were going to teach us and install a play and then we were going to have to do it that (day) during practice," Troy Woolfolk said. "I said, 'Yeah, dad, I understand.'
"When I went out there, it was a completely different thing (than he expected). I was shocked. I texted him right after practice, 'You were right.' He was like, ‘Yeah, you’ve got to listen to your father.’”
Woolfolk's bid to latch onto an NFL team hinges on his fundamentals. He's always been a blazer -- he and quarterback Denard Robinson were considered Michigan's two-fastest players last year -- but didn't always display proper technique.
He was beset by a gruesome leg injury in 2010, which cost him the entire season. He never looked quite the same last year, and eventually lost his starting cornerback job to freshman Blake Countess.
Woolfolk was moved to safety, where he split time with Thomas Gordon.
"That hurt me a lot because I feel like, even when I first came back the last season I played, it was still kind of aggravating,” he said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “It wasn’t really completely healed until the end of the season.”
One thing that could help Woolfolk's case is his play on special teams. Versatility is key for players who are fighting for a spot on the end of a roster.
Butch Woolfolk says his son is showing signs he could make it.
“Because of (the injury) he doesn’t have the necessary instincts at hand as most guys that have played a lot of games in a row,” he told the Free Press. “Troy was like a two-year starter, with some injuries in between. So the more reps he gets, the better he’s going to be. His best football’s ahead of him.”
If the NFL doesn't work out, Troy Woolfolk told reporters he would work at his father's pharmaceutical company in Washington D.C.