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Derrick Gore is under no illusion about the daunting odds he faces to make the K.C. Chiefs roster this preseason. Given the talent and investment already in the running backs room, he’s definitely the long shot and the fact that he’s lasted this long during the seemingly infinite NFL offseason is already a solid achievement.
That said, anything is possible and Gore is leaning into that with the Super Bowl favorites.
The Chiefs first signed Gore to a reserve/futures deal back in February after hosting Gore for a tryout during the postseason. A total of seven players tried out in January and several are still around, which shows the Chiefs had a vision for each and wanted to see them through a full offseason of training activities, minicamps, and perhaps even training camp.
Some of those former tryout players who are still signed include tight end Evan Baylis, wide receiver Dalton Schoen, and offensive lineman Prince Tega Wanogho. Even among that tier of players, Gore is a relative unknown, a player who the majority of Chiefs fans would likely shrug and not recognize. His own background only makes his chances seem even worse.
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Coming out of high school, Gore went the prep school route in hopes of bolstering his offers and turning the right heads, but he managed only 257 rushing yards at Milford Prep and his next step was a stop at Coffeyville (Ks.) for a JuCo season. He failed to play due to injury and then decided to try to walk on at the biggest stage possible: with Nick Saban and Alabama.
To Gore’s credit, the move worked and he was able to enjoy a couple seasons in Tuscaloosa where, in limited action, he showed off special teams prowess that included a blocked punt against Florida punter Johnny Townsend. Las Vegas Raiders running back would catch the punt and take it to the house for a touchdown.
Gore finally got his chance to shine when he transferred once again to the University of Louisiana-Monroe. He had a total of 295 carries for 1,247 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns across two seasons with the Warhawks, good for a 4.2 yards/carry average.
From there, Gore earned a chance to play as a rookie free agent with the Los Angeles Chargers and impressed enough during the preseason that he stuck around for a couple years on the team’s practice squad and offseason roster. However he’s yet to make his NFL debut, and Gore is going to turn 27-years-old during the upcoming season.
The Chiefs clearly see and like something here, and it’s likely going to be his ability to play special teams at a high level if he is under serious consideration to make the active roster. The Chiefs have plenty of production in the running backs room when it comes to the offense, from first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire to backup Darrel Williams to the newly-signed Jerick McKinnon. Darwin Thompson is facing an important season as well as a former sixth-round pick.
Gore is unlikely to make the final roster for the Chiefs and perhaps he becomes a footnote very soon in terms of team history. However, he’s also battled against the circumstances before and still found a way to chase his NFL dream even after missing out on D1 scholarships, serious injuries, learning multiple systems, and facing rejection. That builds a lot of confidence and character, and Gore might just surprise us all again.