Ty Montgomery tried to focus on school. He had finals to study for, graduation day in sight, a promise to keep.
But it wasn't easy.
In Montgomery's words, "it just sucked" being stuck in college while the real world waited. There's a natural order to things. Normally, the job comes after graduation. In the NFL, drafted players at schools with a quarter-based calendar -- instead of the more traditional semester system -- aren't allowed to attend offseason workouts until classes end.
So Montgomery, the Green Bay Packers' third-round receiver from Stanford, had to postpone the official start to his professional life.
"It kind of felt like being grounded," Montgomery said, "and all your other friends get to go play, and you're grounded. That's kind of what it felt like, but graduation means a lot. Not only to me, but my family. That Stanford degree can never be taken away from you. I'll get old, I'll be done playing football, but that Stanford degree is not going anywhere.
"That being said, I did want to be out here a lot."
After participating in the Packers' rookie orientation last month, Montgomery spent the next five weeks at Stanford. He returned to Green Bay late last week for the final organized team activity practices, and went through his first practice open to media and fans Tuesday in the Packers' first day of minicamp.
Montgomery will graduate Sunday, keeping a promise he made to his family. When he went off to college, he ensured them he wouldn't leave without a degree.
"I promised my family that for them," Montgomery said, "and they also wanted me to do it for myself. So I said I would do it for myself as well. My grandmother, my (grandfather) and my great grandmother, they all passed away in the past seven or eight months. They all wanted to see me do it, so it was for them as well."
Montgomery flashed his speed and athleticism Tuesday, catching passes during team drills and quickly turning up field. Coach Mike McCarthy said he's impressed despite the rookie's limited practice time.
"I thought Ty looked excellent," McCarthy said. "He had a very good practice Friday, and I thought he had another good practice today. He does some things very natural. He looks (like) he's picked it up really quick, especially for someone that hasn't been here."
Montgomery tried to not fall behind while he was stuck in school. He studied the Packers' playbook between preparations for his finals. Each day, Montgomery said, he went through "about 400 slides of install" on his own.
But Montgomery wouldn't allow himself to become too distracted. With graduation looming, he said school was his top priority.
"When it was finals," Montgomery said, "I was all school. I was all finishing school so I could finish fast. Then when I got here I was playing catch-up."
At least Montgomery wasn't alone.
Packers undrafted outside linebacker James Vaughters was his teammate at Stanford. Vaughters, too, had to delay his arrival to Green Bay because of the NFL's policy.
Montgomery said it was nice to have company.
"It's like, if you're going to be grounded, at least you can be grounded with a brother," Montgomery said. "That's what it felt like."
Montgomery admits he's not yet comfortable with the offense. He missed eight installments of the playbook during his time away from OTAs, and it'll take time to catch up.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn't rushing to any conclusions with Montgomery. He said the rookie needs time to settle in, get experience with the passing game and familiarity with the playbook.
"I think you have to temper your expectations, but seems to be a real good kid – other than his college choice," said Rodgers, the former Cal quarterback needling Montgomery for playing at college rival Stanford. "Seems to be pretty intelligent. Obviously, has the body type to do some things that we like around here. Looks to be athletic, quick, has caught the ball well, but it's two days.
"We're not going to put too high of expectations for him or give up on him too early, either. I think he has a bright future with us, but this is just his first couple days with us."
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