Tampa's KJ Sails charges ahead for NFL dream

Former USF star fights for spot on Chargers roster
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Posted at 4:04 PM, Aug 27, 2021

LOS ANGELES — The NFL Draft came and went. So did the free-agent signing period in the days and weeks afterward. All the while, K.J. Sails' phone stayed silent.

"My birthday was May 2nd. I didn’t celebrate my birthday that whole day. I laid in the bed," Sails remembered. "My son actually got me out of the bed because he started singing happy birthday. So I was like, alright, it’s time for me to get up. I don’t want him to feel that energy of me being down."

The Tampa-native, and former USF standout defensive back, hadn't heard from any NFL teams in the wake of the draft. He continued to train and eventually was invited to work out with the Patriots and the Dolphins. Still, no contract was offered. But that all changed when the L.A. Chargers signed Sails on August 7th.

"It's been great. The guys have embraced me. The coaches have embraced me," the East Bay grad said via video chat. "I feel wanted here. They've been teaching me the things I need to know, catching me up to speed. When I first got out here I was up and running. I hopped right into the fire."

Sails has been an underdog for most of his life, and he says he'll embrace that role again as he tries to make the Chargers roster.

"It’s all about perseverance," Sails said. "If you’re gonna cry, cry to keep going. Don’t cry to stop. If you’re gonna pout, pout to keep going."

KJ said his four-year-old son King motivates him to inspire the younger generation.

"Generational chain-breakers endure the most pain, so the people behind them don’t suffer as much," he said. "It doesn’t mean they’re not going to go through anything, but they’re not going to suffer and go through what you did. I couldn’t give up, man. This is what I want to do, and this is what I’m going to do."

Sails has one more chance to impress the coaching staff, but he said he's not worried about feeling any pressure.

"I don't really think about that, man," Sails said with a grin. "The only thing you can focus on is the game. And focus on things that you can control. That’s been my whole approach. Even through cut one, cut two. I’m still here. That's saying a lot. I'm thankful, and I'm ready to work."

The Chargers preseason finale is Saturday night against the Seahawks (10 P.M. Eastern). NFL teams must trim their rosters from 80 to the final 53 by 4 P.M. on Tuesday. However, some of those on the bubble may make still make a team's practice squad.