Ryan Boschetti entered the 2005 season uncertain whether he would make the Redskins' roster. He had lived on the NFL edge his rookie season, alternating between the practice squad and roster. During the preseason, he shared his locker at Redskins Park with other rookies and first-year players.
Considering that six years ago Boschetti was uncertain if he would ever play football again, he was grateful just to be competing at the NFL level.
On Sept. 3, the Redskins made their final preseason cuts to the 2005 roster. What Boschetti wanted to hear was nothing at all. And that's just what he got.
"The day was pretty uneventful," Boschetti said at the time. "My phone didn't ring, except for a couple calls from friends. Every time it did, I said, 'Hey, maybe it's the Redskins.'"
It wasn't. Boschetti would have to share a locker no more. He had earned a roster spot.
Boschetti spent the 2005 season listed as second on the depth chart at left defensive tackle. He played in 13 games, with one start. He saw his most extensive action in St. Louis on Week 13, when he drew the start to replace injured lineman Joe Salave'a. Boschetti also saw action in the Divisional Playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Boschetti's road to the NFL has not come with relative ease. It's a journey of patience and perseverance.
His story begins at Carlmont High School in Belmont, Calif. Boschetti was truly the big man on campus, being named the school's Athlete of the Year in his senior year for his excellence on the football and baseball fields as well as the basketball court. He also served as team captain in each of the three sports. In football, he garnered all-county, all-league and all-state honors in his senior campaign of 1999.
After high school, Boschetti went through a year in which he admits that he thought that he would never play sports again. He was forced to undergo shoulder surgery to mend a lingering injury that he had sustained playing basketball during his junior season. He had to put his dream of playing football on the backburner.
Boschetti enrolled in classes at the College of San Mateo, a junior college in San Mateo, Calif. He decided to become a personal trainer and "helped other people to achieve their goals" while rehabilitating his shoulder.
Just a year away from sports, his shoulder healed, and his future in football was renewed. Boschetti got a call from Tim Tulloch, defensive coordinator at the College of San Mateo, who invited Boschetti to start playing football again. Boschetti obliged. San Mateo is a school with quite a bit of football tradition. NFL coaching legends John Madden, Bill Walsh and Dick Vermeil are all San Mateo products.
Boschetti's career was put right back on track when he collected 24 quarterback sacks in a two-year stint that culminated with a Coast Division championship and Graffiti Bowl appearance in 2001. He also earned All-America honors that season.
Following his sensational 2001 season, Boschetti was listed as the No. 2 junior college prospect in all of America. He was all set to attend the University of California-Berkeley. But when the university fired the head coach, Boschetti changed his mind and headed south to UCLA. He caught on right away as a Bruin, making 23 tackles as a junior and 43 as a senior.
Although he was not taken in the 2004 NFL Draft, Boschetti caught the eye of Redskins' defensive coordinator-defensive line coach Greg Blache, who convinced the team to take a chance on him as an undrafted free agent.
Boschetti spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad. He was activated in Week 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and had four tackles in his debut.
His late-season audition, as well as an outstanding training camp in 2005, helped Boschetti make a positive impression on Blache and the defensive coaching staff.
"I've really become a lot smarter at the game and I've been able to pick up what offenses are doing a lot better," Boschetti said. "A year ago, everything happened so fast. Now I'm much more relaxed on the field. I know what to expect.
"I take it play-by-play and day-by-day. I know that if I do my job, I'll have a job."
His hard work over the past six years has also made him appreciate his opportunity that much more.
"I know how it feels to be watching these guys on Sundays and I have to continue to do whatever it takes to make sure I'm not watching them next year," Boschetti said.