Cameron Heyward didn't know exactly when his NFL football career would start because of the looming lockout, but his concerns weren't as a great as some. A first-round selection of the Steelers, the Peachtree Ridge grad knew his shot at pro football was there.
For undrafted rookie free agents, the summer hasn't been as relaxing.
Unable to talk with NFL teams because of the lockout, the football players fresh out of college have spent a good portion of the year working out on their own and waiting for a labor deal's completion. That finally happened Monday and the rookie free agents finally saw their future take shape Tuesday.
That crop included three Gwinnett grads who signed free-agent contracts Tuesday -- Dacula's Cole Brodie (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Cameron Kenney (San Diego Chargers), and Peachtree Ridge's Phillip Davis (San Francisco 49ers).
It ended months of uncertainty for the trio.
"If I could describe it in one word, I'd say stressful," Brodie said of the post-draft lockout period. "Leading up to the draft you had calls every weeks, teams and agents in touch with you. But that lockout dead period all summer was tough when they weren't allowed to talk to us. You just keep working out and you don't know if (NFL teams) are still interested in you or not. You just hope they are."
Brodie, a cornerback and kick returner who played last year at South Dakota State, got calls from Jacksonville, Atlanta, Arizona and Cleveland after the lockout ended. He liked it best at Jacksonville, which is only 30 minutes from most of his father's family.
Fellow Dacula grad Kenney talked mainly with the Chargers and the Falcons before choosing San Diego, which had more of a need at wide receiver. The 6-foot-1, 199-pounder played wideout the past two seasons at Oklahoma after two seasons at the junior college level.
Kenney had signed with the UFL's Omaha Nighthawks until NFL free agency began and had planned a return to Omaha if a NFL deal didn't pan out.
"San Diego's a great opportunity for me and it's a position they need," said Kenney, who flew out Tuesday night to San Diego. "I'm looking forward to helping out in any way I can and hopefully I'll have a great opportunity to make their roster."
Davis is hoping for the same kind of opportunity with the 49ers. A first-team All-Conference USA cornerback last season, the 5-foot-10, 173-pounder had interest from a few teams before signing with San Francisco.