Pro football: Dorty to Redskins rookie camp

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 30, 2012

By Mike London
WOODLEAF — The call from the Washington Redskins came at 2 p.m. on Sunday, and Tristan Dorty’s very brief “retirement” from football was history.
“It’s kind of a weird feeling,” Dorty said. “It’s a good feeling, but I don’t think it has all sunk in yet.”
Dorty, who was a pass-rushing, run-crushing monster of a defensive lineman in his prep days at West Rowan, will be one of a host of free agents reporting to the Redskins’ rookie mini-camp in Ashburn, Va., on Thursday.
Dorty wasn’t a Redskins guy growing up, but at least he wasn’t a Dallas Cowboys fan.
“I always followed the Minnesota Vikings because of Randall Cunningham,” Dorty confessed.
Dorty has agreed to a deal, but there are no guarantees attached to it — just an opportunity. He’ll be in camp with other immensely talented free agents such as East Carolina receiver Lance Lewis of Concord Spiders fame.
An opportunity in a pro camp is actually more than Dorty, who will be looked at as an inside linebacker by the Redskins, had hoped for.
His career at Wake Forest was solid — he was a three-year starter — but a painful parade of injuries to his back, toes, ankles and fingers prevented him from repeating the sort of dominance he enjoyed at West Rowan, where he was All-State, a Shrine Bowler and the 2006 Rowan Defensive Player of the Year.
He had three sacks as a Wake soph and 44 tackles as a junior, before registering 38 tackles and a modest four hurries in an injury-plagued — and sackless — senior season.
It was a serious finger injury that had Dorty on the verge of easing away from football and into the work force. He graduated from Wake in January with a communications degree and has been serving an internship with the federal justice department in Washington, D.C.
“I had surgery on my finger in January and really couldn’t train the way that I wanted to,” Dorty said. “I didn’t even participate in Wake’s Pro Day (in March) because I felt like I could only hurt my draft stock — that is, if I still had any stock.”
Dorty stands between 6-foot-1 and 6-2 and weighs in the range of 250 pounds. He has run 4.7 40s, although he’s usually more of a 4.8 guy.
There’s potential there, if he’s healthy, and the Redskins know they’re giving a look to a solid citizen. Not only is Dorty a college grad, he owns a disciplined work ethic.
Dorty had just about convinced himself that it was time to forget football, but then he started watching the three-day NFL draft circus and started seeing the names of his Demon Deacon teammates called out.
Guard Joe Looney to San Francisco in the third round. Linebacker Kyle Wilber to Dallas in the fourth. Receiver Chris Givens to the Rams in the fourth. Then West Davidson’s Josh Bush, who grew up maybe 25 miles from Dorty, went in the sixth to the Jets.
“I had started having regrets about not going to Pro Day and started thinking maybe I’d made some bad decisions,” Dorty said. “You start seeing your friends and teammates drafted, and with each one, you’re like, ‘Wow, that could’ve been me.’ ”
But the Redskins saw something they liked, and Dorty who has been playing football since he was a fifth-grade middle linebacker, will be given a chance to show what he can do this week.
“I realized when the Redskins called that I’d never lost the drive to play football,” Dorty said. “I feel lucky that I’ve always had the drive. Even as a child I dreamed of the NFL, and now I have a chance. My mom was really excited. She said she knew all along that I still wanted to play football.”
Scott Young, Dorty’s coach at West, has held NFL hopes for him for years, maybe since the day coach Brad Lambert showed up in Mount Ulla to try to talk Dorty into becoming a Demon Deacon.
“I’m pumped for Tristan,” Young said. “I don’t think there’s been a Falcon in an NFL camp since David Drechsler (1983-84) was a Packer.”