C.J. Saunders is getting his opportunity to compete for an NFL roster spot.
After initially signing on to play in The Spring League, Saunders will instead be spending this weekend in Atlanta, where he has been invited to participate in the Atlanta Falcons' rookie minicamp, he confirmed to Eleven Warriors on Tuesday.
This weekend will mark a return to competitive football for the first time in more than two years for Saunders, who missed the entire 2019 season with a knee injury and was not granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. He spent the 2020 season working as a student coach for the Buckeyes.
Before his injury, though, Saunders had seen some playing time at wide receiver for Ohio State, catching 27 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown between the 2017 and 2018 seasons while also contributing as a punt and kickoff returner. After initially joining the team as a walk-on, Saunders earned a scholarship with the Buckeyes and even became a team captain in 2019.
Saunders told Eleven Warriors in February that he didn't want to give up on his football career without taking his best shot at playing in the NFL.
“I think I do have stuff left in the tank, and I didn’t really get to fully show it at Ohio State on Saturdays whether it be unhealthy or just a lot of really good players playing alongside me,” Saunders told Eleven Warriors last week. “And at the end of the day, whether I play for a long time or here in a couple months nobody calls and it’s the end of my playing days, that I can look back and say ‘I gave it everything I had’ and I put all, everything I could, into this opportunity.
“I didn’t want to leave anything up to regret, so I’m just trying to exhaust all options. And if it’s in my future, then so be it, and if not, then we’ll find something else and keep moving. But I just didn’t want to live with any regret down the road.”
Now, Saunders will get that shot at the Falcons' rookie camp, which will begin Friday and conclude Sunday.