NFL: Ratelle ready for opportunity at fullback
Will Ratelle left UND in the fall as one of the greatest linebackers in school history. Yet, he's about to embark on a professional career at a different position. At 5-foot-10, Ratelle is short by NFL linebacker standards and projects as a fullb...
Will Ratelle left UND in the fall as one of the greatest linebackers in school history.
Yet, he’s about to embark on a professional career at a different position.
At 5-foot-10, Ratelle is short by NFL linebacker standards and projects as a fullback and special teams performer at the next level.
Ratelle signed as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday, and he said Sunday he’s excited about the team’s fullback usage.
“They use a lot of fullback personnel,” Ratelle said. “That’s a big part of their offense. They have a good fullback now, so it’d be good to learn from him a little bit before I have a true role on the team.”
Ratelle, an all-Big Sky Conference first team pick, will travel to Atlanta for minicamp on Thursday. He’ll have a couple of weeks off in Grand Forks after that before official camp starts in early June or late May, he said.
Ratelle first was in contact with Atlanta in early April. On Saturday, they called Ratelle mid-afternoon to let him know they weren’t going to use a draft pick on him but to have his phone ready for a free-agent deal after the draft.
Ratelle said he had about five of those offers. From there, he contacted his agent to map out his best option.
When Ratelle and his agent opted to go with the Falcons, Atlanta sent him an email with a three-year contract which included a signing bonus, although the contract is contingent on Ratelle making the team. Ratelle pulled up on the contract on his I-pad and used an E-Signature application to send it back.
“We didn’t talk too much about anything football-related,” Ratelle said. “They just called and said ‘Hey, we want you here.’”
Ratelle spent Saturday at former teammate Brandon Anderson’s wedding in Sartell, Minn. He said he was occassionally checking NFL.com on his phone during the ceremony, especially to see when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets were going to pick..
“My emotions were all over the place,” Ratelle said. “I didn’t know what to think about everything. I was trying to stay calm and keep my head on my shoulders and not overthink everything. There was a lot of commotion going on.”
Between the wedding and the reception, Ratelle and some former teammates went to a restaurant where the draft was on TV.
“The draft was on TV, which I wasn’t very happy about,” Ratelle said. “I didn’t want it to be an issue, but everyone there made sure it was an issue.”
For now, Ratelle said his next move is to make sure he’s in the best shape possible.
“I’m just going to work out and be ready to go,” Ratelle said.