Rising up to becoming a full-time starter in 2015, Will Compton continues to grow entering his fourth NFL season. He's also more of a vocal presence, something that has always come natural to him.
On May 2, 2013, the Washington Redskins announced the signing of 12 college free agents. Of those 12, only two are currently on an NFL roster: Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Nick Williams and Redskins linebacker Will Compton.
While Williams is deep on the Falcons' roster, Compton has risen from undrafted free agent to practice squad member to now in line not only to be a starter, but the defense's vocal leader.
"I can't believe I'm in my fourth year," Compton told Redskins.com. "I remember back to my first training camp I had a hamstring injury and I was talking to one of my friends saying, 'I don't even care if this is my only year,' because I was so down on myself. But through opportunity, God's grace, work ethic and everything, I am here now. But it's crazy to look back on. I would have never guessed this back then. I worked for it, but I pushed through that self-doubt."
Indeed, Compton has withstood the notion that undrafted players can't last. Instead, he's outperformed many of the players that were drafted the same year he didn't hear his name called.
After getting his first NFL start against the Arizona Cardinals -- a spot start in place of an injured Perry Riley Jr. -- in 2014, Compton was eventually pushed back into a reserve role.
In 2015, Compton was faced with the same situation. But unlike like the previous year, Compton wouldn't be relegated to the bench.
The Nebraska product would start the final eight games of the season while tallying 122 tackles on the year, second most on the team behind safety Dashon Goldson.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said Compton's dramatic growth has come from his ability to anticipate what offenses are trying to run.
Check out the top 10 photos of Will Compton from the 2015 season.
"He can see splits and get ready," Gruden said. "He just keeps everybody on their toes. There's a lot of communication on both sides of the ball, especially at the middle linebacker position. Motions, shifts, formation changes, no huddle—communication is huge on defense and Will is as good as anybody at communicating the defense."
Indeed, Compton has taken on a more vocal role with the Redskins, particularly this offseason. During workouts, his voice often stands out, as he barks out assignments and works with teammates after miscues.
The role has always come natural to him.
"Yeah, I have always been someone who has fun, bring enthusiasm, work ethic, stuff like that," Compton said. "And that's never going to change. That's something I take a lot of pride in."
"Will Compton is doing a great job at linebacker," defensive end Chris Baker said. "He's pretty much the quarterback of our defense and you hear him all day making mic checks and checking us out of different defenses. So we're doing a good job of communicating and learning this defense."
They're the two best friends that anyone could have
You'd be hard pressed not to find Compton and fellow inside linebacker Mason Foster together while at Redskins Park or cracking jokes with each other on social media.
Ever since Foster was signed last October, the two have not only become best friends, but they've clicked on the field, performing like a pair that's played side-by-side for years.
"We had a common good buddy, Lavonte David, so once he came in with hit it off," Compton said of how their friendship was formed. "And we were the backups and we had to sit and practice with each other."
By December, the two were the starting inside linebackers.
"Once he saw me get my opportunity, he knew his could be coming at some point, especially when you get to the third linebacker role," Compton said. "Once he knew that, he was motivated and we've grown a lot."