Chilean tight end Sammis Reyes poised for a bigger role as the Washington Football Team get set for a playoff push

Eight months ago, at the University of Florida’s pro day, Washington first noticed a little-known South American basketball player named Sammis Reyes.

Anything but little, the 6’5″, 260-pound former Tulane University (NCAA D1) power forward showed his freakish athletic ability recording a 4.65 in the 40-yard dash, 31 bench press reps, a 40″ vertical, and 10’5″ leap in the broad jump. Despite his jaw-dropping athletic numbers, there was a catch – the 25-year-old had never planned a single snap of American football.

Reyes was part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program, a program that provides international players with both the training and a roadmap to break into the NFL. Each year four players are selected from the IPP’s group and placed onto teams in the same division following the NFL Draft. Initially, Reyes was one of the 11 prospects competing for a spot this year. However, he was signed to a three-year deal before the draft after Washington pulled the trigger on the raw prospect following an impressive pro day.

Fast forward to now the international rookie has earned his way onto Washington’s gameday roster picking up the game with remarkable speed. After a surprisingly strong pre-season, Washington opted to keep Reyes on the gameday roster as a typically unnecessary fourth tight end, fearing other teams would quickly sign the workout warrior off of their practice squad. Washington head coach Ron Rivera on Reyes’s pre-season:

“We saw what he can grow into. He blocked well. We really like him in certain situations blocking. He might be our most physical tight end. I might be getting ahead of myself but some things I saw pointed to that.”

As the grind of the NFL season has marched on, Reyes has seen more and more playing time. Initially only contributing as a long-armed wing on the field goal team, the South American has become a rotational inline blocker on offense, playing 12% of the offensive snaps in the last three games. Reyes credits tight ends coach Pete Hoener for his rapid development:

“He took the time to teach me the game, step by step. He broke down the game for me to the most basic level, and he realized there are a lot of gaps of information that I just didn’t know at the time. That’s when everything started clicking. That’s when I really understood what he wanted from me and what he was trying to accomplish.” (via The Washington Post)

Last week, Washington earned a hard-fought 17-15 win in Las Vegas, however, the win came at a cost as Pro Bowl tight end Logan Thomas went down with a season-ending ACL tear. With Washington’s go-to tight end out for the season, fans can expect Reyes to have more offensive responsibilities. he, fellow rookie John Bates, and veteran Ricky Seals-Jones will share the load in the Football Team’s tight end heavy offense.

While still seeing far fewer snaps than rookie Johns Bates and proven pass catcher Ricky Seals-Jones, don’t be surprised to see Reyes earn more time and even haul in his first catch as 6-6 Washington pushes for a playoff wild card spot with five games remaining.

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football