Former NC State safety Brandan Bishop had his phone ready on the last day of the 2013 NFL Draft, but it never rang with the news he was hoping to hear. The six-foot-two, 205-pounder, who started 46 games and tallied 12 interceptions with 315 tackles during his career, was passed over in all seven rounds of the event.
He fielded plenty of interest once he became an undrafted free agent, but the sizeable chip that has always rested on his shoulder and pushed Bishop to success during his college days, just got bigger. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, though.
"That last Saturday was a long day for me," he admitted. "It will be a chip that I carry for the rest of my career, and hopefully it turns into a blessing for me."
After talking with several clubs, Bishop decided he would sign with Minnesota, where the Vikings offered him a chance to realize his lifelong dream as an NFL player. Former teammate Audie Cole is entering his second year as a linebacker for the franchise, and center Camden Wentz also signed with the club as an undrafted free agent.
The three-man Wolfpack got together in Minnesota while Bishop and Wentz went through rookie minicamp May 3-5, and Cole was in town working out with the other veterans. Organized team activities will kick off on May 28.
"It's good to have some guys around that you know," Bishop said. "Audie took Cam and I out to dinner on one of the first nights; it's good to have some familiar faces around when you're going into a new situation. I'm excited to have those guys around, and I'm looking forward to continuing to be teammates with them.
"I got a lot of reps [at rookie camp]. We didn't install too much, the coaches kept it pretty basic, but I think I was able to pick up the material pretty quickly and I made a couple of plays. I thought it was a pretty good start up there."
Bishop carefully examined the situation of each interested professional team, and determined that the Vikings, with a slew of youngsters on the back line, were the best fit for him. One of the squad's defensive back coaches watched the safety at Pro Day in Raleigh and discussed the team's scheme, which Bishop felt comfort in, while the player also felt like he developed a good relationship with his new coach in the pre-draft process.
"I was really excited, I thought it was a tremendous opportunity for me," he said. "They didn't draft any guys [at safety] and they've got some young guys back there. They took Harrison Smith in the first round last year, but besides that, there was a need for competition.
"They signed one other undrafted guy, so I think it will be a good competition going into camp this summer, and I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to make the ball club."
Bishop noted that he lined up at free safety during his first minicamp, but explained that the Vikings want guys who are versatile enough to line up at either spot, and he feels like he can offer that and more.
"My focus will just be competing for a spot and doing whatever I can to make the team better, whether it's playing punt, punt return, kickoff or kick return," he said. "I hope to get out there on all of the special teams and work my way up to earn a spot, just like I did in college. I'm going to go up there with no expectations; I'll just try to fit in and earn my spot."
Bishop predicts good things are on the horizon for the Wolfpack program under the leadership of new head coach Dave Doeren, and he'll be keeping a close eye on his Alma Mater, regardless of where he is as he chases his dream.
"I'm very appreciate to the school, the program and especially the fans that made the experience truly special," he said. "NC State is something that will be a big part of me for the rest of my life. I also wanted to thank the new coaches for welcoming us back, even though we weren't their guys. They treated us well when we were back around and let us know that the facilities are always open to us.
"I had a great experience at State and I'll always be a part of the Pack. I'm looking forward to coming back for lots of games in the future."