Lee’s Summit North High School graduate Josh Caldwell was originally slated to attend rookie mini-camp for the Washington Redskins in Richmond, Va.
Instead, the 5-foot-11, 220-pound fullback decided to attend a local pro day tryout for the Kansas City Chiefs. Then he was invited to their rookie mini-camp on a tryout basis. The team originally didn’t have enough room to sign him.
The Chiefs then said they might be interested down the line and encouraged him to keep working out. He eventually got an invitation to the Chiefs’ mandatory mini-camp earlier this week, and he impressed the coaches.
He signed a deal with the Chiefs Thursday and will have a chance to earn a spot on the Chiefs’ 53-man roster during the team’s training camp beginning July 27.
“It’s great feeling,” Caldwell said. “I grew up in Kansas City and grew up a Chiefs fan. What makes it even better is you get to play in front of your friends and family.“
Caldwell had a standout college career with NCAA Division II schools Northwest Missouri State and Missouri Western State. He was an NCAA Division II All-American and an All-MIAA selection in 2016 with Missouri Western. After transferring, he had 139 carries for 830 yards and 11 touchdowns in his senior season with Northwest Missouri State. He finished his career with 3,741 yards rushing and 35 scores.
At Lee’s Summit North, he holds school records for most rushing yards in a game (310) and most career rushing yards (2,885). As a Bronco, he averaged 6.45 yards per carry and 96.2 yards per game and scored 20 TDs.
Going into the tryout and two mini-camps, Caldwell said he felt like he was well prepared, which helped land him a deal with his favorite team.
“I came in with an advantage because I learned the basic playbook at rookie mini-camp.” Caldwell said. “I remembered the plays and they threw me in there. I linked up with Darwin Thompson (the Chiefs’ sixth-round draft pick from Utah State) at the hotel and he taught me everything he learned since rookie mini-camp. I tried to learn as much as I could before mandatory mini-camp.”
Caldwell got reps as a running back and on special teams.
“We were able to go in there and execute and help the special teams out,” Caldwell said. “They didn’t have us to do much because we have been there all summer.”
The most exciting part for Caldwell was meeting some of the running backs and fullbacks that he’s seen play for the Chiefs on television like Carlos Hyde, Damien Williams, Darrel Williams and Anthony Sherman. He also got to listen in on head coach Andy Reid talking to his team.
“I got to see how (Reid) brainstorms and how he coaches,” Caldwell said. “It’s kind of crazy. He’s a genius. He’s a future Hall of Famer. It was a blessing to learn from him.
“I also tried to pick (Sherman’s) brain as much as I could. He’s a (veteran). It means a lot when someone like that coaches you up. He was in the Pro Bowl last year. It’s great to be in the locker room with guys like that.”
Caldwell has more than a month to prepare for training camp and he said he plans on working out on a consistent basis until that day comes. He grew up watching some of his favorite Chiefs like Priest Holmes and Jamaal Charles. He hopes to be in their shoes when the 2019 season starts.
“I don’t know exactly what my chances are,” Caldwell said. “Anything can happen. “I am just going to take it day by day and learn as much as can. I am going to have fun with it.”