Kevin Chaplain was sitting at his desk when he got the call he had been waiting for for years. His agent was on the other line, and told him that the Seattle Seahawks were interested in him flying abroad for a workout.
“I was ready to go,” said a chaplain. “But I certainly wasn’t expecting it at that moment.”
Chaplain, a former employee of the state of Montana, then traveled to Seattle Thursday to meet with the Seahawks’ training staff and front office, working alongside a few other possibilities. Each player ran a 40-yard dash and some soccer-focused drills.
Wanting to make the most of the opportunity, Kassis said he wasn’t nervous and was excited just to enjoy being back on the football field.
“During the exercise, I was like, ‘Oh, it’s going well,’” Chaplain said. “And then I got this kind of assurance (after the exercise) from the coaching staff and some members in the front office. So I was optimistic that I would probably sign.”
A chaplain said that sometimes, after a team flies a player for a practice, they would send him home to wait for more updates. Other times, they’ll sign a player right then and there. This was the first time a Chaplain trained with a team, so he wasn’t sure how things would go with the Seahawks.
After a post-workout discussion with the coaching staff and front office, Chaplain signed off as an unrefined free agent with the Seahawks on the same day. He said it was reassuring to have things move so quickly and to be able to share the news with friends and family.
“People know, sort of, that this is the journey that I’ve taken, it’s kind of a unique path to get to this point,” Chassis said. “And that’s all I could really ask for, just getting a chance to put my foot in the door. So everyone is so excited about me and excited to see how it goes.”
The “Kassis Alfred Road” began at the conclusion of the 2019 football season. His MSU career had just come to an end, and he was looking forward to competing at the upcoming Pro Day in the spring. But with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it was canceled.
At that point, a priest thought his football days were over. He landed a job at Alcon, a Los Angeles-based eye care company, thanks to a connection to another MSU graduate. Chase said he always tried to just stay in shape, but never envisioned a path into the NFL.
But things changed at the top of 2022. Kassis quit his job at Alcon, looking to pursue a career in the NFL for one last time. He returned to his parents’ house and began “in pursuit of him”.
He also finally got a chance to compete in the MSU Pro Day on April 4 alongside future NFL Draft picks Troy Andersen and Daniel Hardy.
Kassis was grateful for the opportunity to rehearse in front of 20 NFL scouts. And while he felt his exercise went well, it was hard to gauge how the Scouts felt about him. Of the Scouts in attendance, Chaplain said Seattle probably showed the most interest.
Since Kassis was not technically a part of the 2022 NFL Draft class, he could have joined the team shortly after Pro Day. He was told there would be more information near draft time, but with the 2022 NFL draft coming and going, there was still something.
“I think the biggest part he’s playing in is, ‘What do these teams need? Do they need to bring a receiver? Or who are they looking for? Kassis said. “So I know my agent was talking to the teams but for a while (I was) waiting patiently.”
Kassis added that, especially after betting on himself for the past two years, the waiting game has put him in a “vortex of emotions”. Most notably, some self-doubt.
“But when there is doubt, you have to flip the script and try to stay as positive as possible,” said Kassis.
The opportunity came from the Seahawks soon after.
“This whole process, I’ve been putting a lot of time into training, trying to stay positive and stuff, you get to the point where you’re like, ‘Hey, I just want a chance to work with a team to see if I can fit in with their system. Kassis said. “It was fun for me to get up there and back, it was even more amazing to be able to sign them.”
Kassis now joins five other MSU players who have either been drafted or signed UDFA deals with off-season teams, including Andersen (the Falcons), Hardy (the Rams), Lance McCutchen (the Rams), Louis Kidd (the Saints) and Tree Webb (the Falcons). . Chaplain said he received texts from MSU football alumni congratulating him, including Andersen and Travis Johnson, who are currently with the Buccaneers organization.
“He’s only talking about the program they’re building there in Bozeman,” said a priest. “You came to where we started rebuilding, and you could see them bring in the right guys. And you get those right guys and things are going well and you play in a national championship, and you get the guys who have chances to keep playing.”
Looking ahead, Chaplain will return to Seattle on Sunday to get ready for his first practice on Monday. And since a chaplain is from California, he’s excited to stay on the West Coast. He’s also happy that he finally “has something on the schedule” after a long time in between playing football.
Kassis added that it is still not true. But now that he’s vying for a spot on the NFL team roster, that’s all he can ask for.
“I had a lot of people in my circle who were supportive, but maybe he looked at me a little crazy for wanting to give him one last chance,” Chaplain said. “I felt like I put in the work and devoted a lot of my childhood and of course college to wanting to be the best player I could give myself a chance. So it was really cool and it’s fun being able to put in all that time and get a chance.”