Frisco, Texas – This is from a small rookie camp.
Two open locker rooms value interviews.
It is usually the time of year to introduce someone to their cheer. As you know, a player with long team-building odds, however, is worth betting on the odds and an interesting story to tell.
So this year, if you’re going to do that, instead of one, how about two candidates that are probably flying under the radar worth pursuing? Two people arrived on campus as unoccupied free agents.
Someone from the 2021 class who didn’t play anything last season.
The other is in the 2022 class, having taken the middle college route to eventually land at HBCU.
They both have unique stories but they both seem to be one of those guys who just look the part. Kind of like the previous guys who made their way to a slate through the back door. Like, off the top of my head, Jeff Heath or Cole Beasley or Dan Bailey or Lance Dunbar or Barry Church. Or heck, we could go back to 1981 when Iverson Walles and Michael Downs, two incredible Dallas-area players, ended up starting as freshmen on the same defensive playing field.
So meet TJ Vasher, the wide receiver, Texas Tech. He’s the one who arrived last year, but basically spent the 2021 season due to a non-football related injury.
Then there’s Markquese Bell, Safety, Florida A&M, via Coffeyville Junior College. It’s the undesigned rookie free agent that the Cowboys had a recordable score for, only to have Bill drop in all seven rounds of the draft, becoming a “priority” free agent to sign.
The best thing about both? They look the part, not only with unique stories but also traits that give them a chance. Vasher, the receiver, is a 6-6, 210, with a wingspan of 84 inches, from Wichita Falls Rider High School, who runs a 4.5 in 40. Bell, Safety, is listed at 6-2, 212, but with a linebacker body type that, oh My God, he ran 4.41 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Here’s what gives young people such hope.
“I explained to the players last night, your identity will now be shaped by what you do,” Cowboys defense coordinator Dan Quinn said on the first day of the junior camp last week.
For example, Quinn went on to use Cowboys assistant defensive line coach Leon Leit, a man who arrived with the Cowboys in the seventh round of the 1991 draft after two years at Hinds Community College (Miss) and then two more years at Emporia State ending up playing for two years. 10 years with the Cowboys.
Then defensive back coach Al Harris mentioned Tampa Bay’s sixth-round pick in 1997 after two years at Trinity Valley Community College and two years at Texas A&M Kingsville, yet continuing his 15-year career in the NFL with two Pro Bowls. . selections.
“If they had to recast these guys after a few years, they probably wouldn’t be drafted into round six and round seven,” Quinn said. “So, what you do from here will really make up your identity.”
Take Fasher. He suffered a knee injury in his senior year at Tech that ruptured his meniscus, and he remembers exactly when, November 28, 2020, against Oklahoma State. It eventually led to surgery, rehabilitation was extensive, causing him to fall through drag.
But the Cowboys estimated his distance 6-6, knowing that a tall guy is usually always open if he throws the ball high. Vasher finished his technical career with 21 touchdowns and in high school he was a two-time Class 5A All-State player. They also saw that during his first year, 26 of his 42 receptions went to either the first landing or landing (six).
So, they took the chance of an inexpensive and unpolished free agent on him, realizing he would likely need to continue rehabilitating his knee, betting on the front line. Thus, Fascher began training camp last year on an active non-football injury, and with a widely crowded stadium, the Cowboys decided to keep their rights by putting him in reserve/NFI. That means they will extend his knee rehab until December, and after a bout with COVID-19, they were brought back to the NFI and then placed in Return To Practice to get three weeks off the scouting team at the end of the season.
But here’s how I liked Fascher: He worked hard on his rehabilitation. If the quarterback needs someone to throw it, he will run the trails. And during the early warm-ups for the home games, he was the guy who ran one way after another for Duck Prescott during his early throw.
Meaning, last Thursday during a junior camp was his first type of group workout since he picked up a knee injury against Oklahoma State.
“It was very satisfying for me,” Fasher said.
Now we turn to Bell, which we discovered on our site make shots The podcaster is the nephew of Walls Grambling’s roommate, Mike Hines. Also, FAMU Bell’s coach Willie Simmons, who described Bell as an “eccentric athlete,” had crossed trails at the castle with now-secondary Cowboys coach Joe Witt Jr., who was an assistant there at the time.
“I’m a hitter,” Bell said during an interview with Small Camp.
Well, the cowboy must think he’s asleep. Bill got a $15,000 signing bonus, usually the top domain for an unoccupied free agent. They essentially guaranteed him a wage worth one season to the coaching staff if he did not participate in the list of 53 players. That’s how much he likes cowboys.
But that’s what got me interested in it, and obviously cowboys, too. In high school, Bill played quarterback, ran back, back defensive, kicked, shot, and returned kicks. He was a state high jump champion in high school. He says as a straight jack he made one at 45 yards.
Bell, like Fasher, took an indirect path to the star. He was drafted into the University of Maryland, and left high school early to enroll during the spring of 2017. Unfortunately, he was suspended indefinitely due to what was officially described as an unspoken violation of the Student Athletic Code of Conduct. He left the program in November of the 2017 season and resumed the 2018 football season at Coffeyville Community College before playing for two years — third in 2020 interrupted by COVID — at Florida A&M. By the way, this is where Nate Newton played college ball.
Bell became an All-American twice and was one of four HBCU players invited to the group.
“One thing they can’t say is that I’m not doing my best,” Bell said.
But Quinn had a way to get his name dropped. The first time he saw Markquese in person, he said, he thought the same thing I did when I talked about looking at the players and trying to imagine how this guy would fit into his defensive scheme.
“Like when I looked at Marquez, to say, what would he look like at full-back? What would he look like in the penalty area?” Quinn said. “We went down to visit him. He came on a visit and I met him as a full-back that day. I think he has some of those traits because I’ve seen hitting and calling.”
Quinn thinks of Jayron Kearse, knowing that the Cowboys lack the mixed safety/backs types he loves, but he also appreciates Bell’s true safety skills. The Cowboys center was linked with Donovan Wilson in the final year of his contract, playing veteran Malik Hooker on a two-year deal, although it could be shortened to one, depending on his performance in 2022 for just $850,000 in dead money, then the last in Round six of the year, Israel picked Mukwamu and last year’s non-branded free agent Tyler Coyle, along with a few non-branded free agents.
Just like Vasher, as the Cowboys restock the wide receiver position after trading away from Amari Cooper, the loss of Cedrick Wilson to free agency and the knowledge that Michael Gallup is recovering from ACL surgery will miss at least the first month of the season.
There you have it, two guys to keep an eye on as the Cowboys move into the organized team activity portion of the offseason next week with their first three drills.
And who knows? Knowing the history of this team in particular with the experienced players in these two positions. Remember, 52 years ago, a kid from the hills of Arkansas, after playing quarterback at Des Arc High School and then defensive back at the little-known Ouachita Baptist in Ark Philadelphia, Ark. , by signing an unwritten free agent contract in 1970 with the Cowboys.
His bust is now located in Canton, Ohio, in the rotunda at the Pro Football Hall.
Yes, Cliff Harris was once one of those unknown men as well, fighting them for the long haul.