Could edge rusher Joshua Pryor become this season's undrafted free-agent gem for the Washington Commanders heading into off-season workouts?
Every kid dreams about one day going pro. Well, almost every kid. Yet how many of those get a chance to make that a reality, much less an hour from where they grew up?
Well, almost none. And that is what makes Joshua Pryor's story so unique.
Pryor, who hails from Baltimore, Maryland, was brought in as one of the 12 undrafted free agents signed by the Washington Commanders.
The prospect was introduced to the game of football by his dad, who was his first coach and the person he admires most in life. From there, he went on to play at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School before his illustrious career at Bowie State.
He finished his collegiate career with the most sacks in program history and second-most career tackles, behind current Bulldogs head coach, Kyle Jackson.
So what are the Commanders getting in Pryor? Well, I'll let Coach Jackson answer that question.
"The Commanders are getting a “MONSTER”! Joshua works hard and enjoys putting in extra work. He is competitive in everything he does! Joshua takes pride in winning his matchups. I think he is in a good spot where he can learn from the veteran defensive lineman within that organization. "- Bulldogs Head Coach Kyle Jackson
If that doesn't sound like a Ron Rivera-type player, I don't know what does.
Yes, some people will write him off due to his smaller frame, as he was measured at just under 6-foot-4 and 242 pounds. This is far below the 280 that he was listed as on the Bulldogs roster.
Others might ignore his stats because he played Division II football. But those critics haven't been paying attention or watching his growth as a player throughout his collegiate career.
"Joshua has grown tremendously since stepping foot on Bowie State’s campus in 2017. He practiced against arguably one of the best offensive lines in BSU history as a redshirt freshman, which helped prepare him for his dominant career in the CIAA. Over the years, Joshua added many pash rush moves to his toolbox. He went from using only his strength to becoming one of the best pass-rush specialists in the conference. "- Bulldogs Head Coach Kyle Jackson
Pryor finished his collegiate career with 245 total tackles, 32 sacks, a program-high 77 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles, and 5 recovered fumbles. And if that wasn't impressive enough, he won the 2022 CIAA Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Despite his numbers dropping after COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 season, Pryor showed he belonged by being "absolutely unblockable" on the first day of HBCU Legacy Bowl practice.
He followed that up with a seven tackle, three tackle for loss, and two-sack performance in the bowl game, showing that he can perform admirably under bright lights.
Among those impressed by the performance were the Commanders, who invited Pryor to their local pro day before signing him when he went undrafted.
Pryor has a similar size to Will Bradley-King and recently-drafted K.J. Henry and has a good chance to provide quality depth. Especially since the Commanders declined Chase Young's fifth-year option.
While he is just getting started, count coach Jackson among those unsurprised by how far he has come.
"We knew Josh would be special since stepping on campus. As a freshman he was better than some of the older guys on the team. He wreaked havoc [on] the starting offense. However, it was not his time. He worked hard throughout that redshirt year and took advantage of the mentorship from upperclassmen at his position. Joshua finished his career as a four-time All Conference Player as well as a four-time All-American."- Bulldogs Head Coach Kyle Jackson
Now, Pryor has to do this part to join the four other former Bowie State Bulldogs who spent time in the league.
And what better team to start his career with than the Commanders, who have found undrafted gems in Jeremy Reaves, Danny Johnson, Jaret Patterson, Armani Rogers, Cam Sims, and Steven Sims Jr. in recent years?