Each and every day, Washington Redskins tight end Je'Ron Hamm sees another opportunity to learn in a sport that he's been adjusting to on the fly.
The son of a military man, Hamm was originally born in Sulzbach-Rosenburg, Germany, where he stayed until he was 5 years old. Years after he and his family moved to Louisiana, Hamm ventured back to his birth country.
"I went back my freshman year of high school to revisit and get a better understanding of where I lived," he said. "It looked a lot smaller, but it was cool to go back. It was mainly a military area, but now it's mainly Germans living there now."
At 5 years old, Hamm and his family moved to Leesville, a small town in Louisiana with a population less than 7,000, where they were heavily involved in their local church growing up.
"Well, my parents are pastors, so I was in church a lot," he said. "That's all I knew up until really coming up here because I went to school in Louisiana, too."
In junior high, Hamm started playing football. While he admittedly didn't play much in the beginning, late in his high school career, he began to bloom as a promising prospect in the state.
While he enjoyed basketball, football was simply something Hamm did to stay in shape while hanging out with his friends. He didn't see significant action until his junior year -- and when he got his opportunity, he took advantage.
In his junior and senior seasons, he helped lead Leesville to back-to-back district championships. With 750 receiving yards and eight touchdowns as a senior, he set the school record in both categories while also receiving All-District, All-Vernon Parish and All-Central Louisiana honors for his effort.
After a record-setting season, the University of Louisiana-Monroe came calling for the then-receiver, and Hamm answered.
"They were my only D-1 offer and it was about 2.5 hours away from home," he said. "It's close so I got to see my family a lot."
Stepping onto campus in 2010, Hamm saw significant playing time as a true freshman, playing in all 12 games and starting the last two. While his impact was felt early on, Hamm's adjustment from small-town high school football to division one college football wasn't easy.
"I learned a lot that first year, just things I never head because in high school it was just running slants and running posts," he said. "But actually stemming and learning defenses, it was a big lesson in the game of football."
A quick learner, his role in the offense grew as his productivity doubled from his freshman to his sophomore year. Appearing in all 12 games, he total 257 yards on 17 receptions, including a four-catch, 91-yard, one touchdown performance against Middle Tennessee.
Much like high school, he broke out in junior season, starting 11 out of 13 games, and he set career-highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.
An All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention as a junior, he hauled in 62 receptions for 915 yards and six touchdowns, including six receptions for 92 yards in overtime upset win over No. 8 Arkansas. He also helped lead the Warhawks to a bowl game -- the 2012 AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl -- in which he had four catches for 53 yards.
While his status grew, not once did Hamm consider going pro in football. He played the sport for fun, and the idea of going to college for free to play football is what enticed him in the first place.
"I never imaged going pro in it," he said. "They said, 'Hey, we'll play for college, come play ball.' So I said okay."
After a senior season fell short of expectations set after his junior campaign – 24 receptions, 304 yards, two touchdowns – Hamm completed the journey from small-town prospect to professional football player when the New Orleans Saints came calling this past May.
Signed as a college free agent, the Saints signed him as a tight end, different from his wide receiver position in college, something the required quite an adjustment.
"It's a huge transition because I was a receiver and [now] I'm a tight end," Hamm said. "New Orleans brought me in as a tight end, so I didn't know anything, learned a little bit, came up here and I'm really liking it up here."
This past September, the Redskins added Hamm to their practice squad as a tight end. Getting to work with coach Wes Phillips while also working against some of the NFL's top pass rushers, Hamm is continuing his education in the game of football every day.
"The coach works with me after practice just getting technique down to go from blocking corners to [Ryan] Kerrigan in practice and Trent Murphy," he said. "Every day is a learning day and so I study a lot and look at the guys ahead of me who have been playing the position."