NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Making it to the National Football League is a lifelong dream for so many young athletes, but according to the NCAA, only 1.6% of college football players end up actually making it to the top, and not many stay there.
That is what makes Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kalif Raymond so special, he’s defeating all odds.
The Georgia native is one of seven in his family and grew up a dual-sport athlete, playing football and running track & field at Holy Cross. He was signed by the Denver Broncos as a free agent back in 2016 and since then has played for four different teams, which includes the Titans. But these are all the transactions he’s been apart of over the last several years:
- Originally signed with the Denver Broncos as a rookie free agent following the 2016 NFL Draft.
- Waived by the Broncos on Sept. 4, 2016 and signed to the practice squad a day later.
- Signed to the Broncos active roster off of the practice squad on Dec. 2, 2016.
- Waived by the Broncos on Sept. 2, 2017.
- Claimed by the New York Jets off waivers from the Broncos on Sept. 3, 2017.
- Waived by the Jets on Sept. 20, 2017 and signed to the practice squad a day later.
- Waived by the Jets on Sept. 27, 2017.
- Signed by the New York Giants on Oct. 11, 2017 to the team’s practice squad.
- Waived by the Giants on Oct. 31, 2017 and was signed to the practice squad a day later.
- Signed to the Giants active roster off of the practice squad on Nov. 14, 2017.
- Waived by the Giants on Sept. 2, 2018.
- Signed by the Titans to the team’s practice squad on Sept. 25, 2018.
- Waived by the Titans on Oct. 2, 2018.
- Signed by the Giants to the team’s practice squad on Oct. 16, 2018.
- Waived by the Giants on Oct. 18, 2018.
- Signed by the Titans to the team’s practice squad on Dec. 24, 2018.
- Waived by the Titans on Sept. 7, 2019 and was signed to the Titan’s practice squad two days later.
- Signed by the Titans to their active roster from the practice squad on Oct. 26, 2019.
Most players with a transaction list that long would consider calling it a career, but not Raymond. Standing at just 5-foot-8, 182-pounds, he makes up for it in speed. Last season with the Titans, he was called upon to make some big plays, and he delivered. Now Raymond is back and working hard to stay put.
“I think personally, having a year, I’m so appreciative of it because of the confidence, knowing that you can go out there and catch the ball when the ball is thrown to you helps so much. We’ve got such a competitive receiver room and that is what constantly keeps you grounded,” said Raymond.
It’s fair to say A.J. Brown, Corey Davis and Adam Humphries are the Titan’s top receivers, but Raymond should easily be put in that four spot. He’s one of hardest working players on the field during training camp and knows that work will have to carry over to Sundays. In order to become a better receiver, Raymond is working on becoming well-rounded, improving his route running.
“I did a lot of studying, actually. Somebody mentioned the other day, Stevie Johnson, I watch that guy a lot, Julian (Edelman). There’s a lot of guys that I’ve been watching, trying to pick up little tips from for those short, intermediate routes, just as much as the deep ones,” added Raymond.
Part of improving route running, is feeling more comfortable with the guy who is throwing the ball. Raymond admits he is still trying to build that bond with quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Raymond said, “I think it’s still like a building process, we spent so much time away. With Ryan (Tannehill) and with all the quarterbacks, just kind of continually using these days because we don’t have games to get ready, so we’ve got to go in the first game and make sure we have the chemistry built. We’re trying to use these days as best we can.”
And while Raymond has a little more attention coming his way during this year’s training camp, he would never know it. He recently deleted all his social media, putting ALL his focus on football.
It’s actually kind of crazy, I actually deleted my social media so I’m not distracted by it. I try to keep it as out of sight and as out of mind as I can. I know there’s some personal things and goals that I have that I want to make sure that I help with this team. So, that’s kind of like my main focus when I go into camp,” said Raymond.
It’s hard not to root for a guy like Kalif Raymond. He’s a fighter and has done everything to be part of that 1.6% that makes it to the top. Now he’s doing whatever it takes to stay there.