David Pindell was at the Baltimore Ravens’ open practice July 28 as a spectator when backup quarterback Robert Griffin III broke his thumb colliding with a linebacker’s helmet. The next day, when head coach John Harbaugh was asked if the team would bring in another quarterback for training camp, he gave an emphatic response.
“Yes, definitely. We’ll have one here for sure,” he said.
Pindell, who led all FBS quarterbacks with 1,139 rushing yards as a senior at UConn in 2018 and threw for nearly 2,000 more, didn’t hesitate trying to get the team’s attention.
“Still available,” Pindell wrote in a tweet accompanied by the eyes emoji.
For Pindell, who starred at Oakland Mills in Columbia and was the Howard County Times Offensive Player of the Year and Baltimore Sun’s All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year in 2015, it seems like a perfect fit.
A call from the Ravens, however, never came.
“I’m local. I’m right here down the street,” said the 6-foot-1, 195-pound signal caller who started 16 games for the Huskies the last two years after spending two seasons at Lackawanna Community College in Pennsylvania. “That can be a chance for me, even if I don’t sign a long-term contract, just to get into a preseason game and show what I can do at quarterback and maybe open up more doors for me just to see what I could do. That’s why I tweeted out that. Hey, maybe somebody would see it.”
Pindell, who is third in UConn single-season history for net yards of total offense with 3,117, had pre-draft workouts with the Ravens, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints. His dream is to be a professional quarterback.
After going undrafted, the Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings showed interest in bringing him to rookie mini-camp. The Bears wanted him as an athlete; the Bucs wanted him as a wide receiver; but the Vikings offered him the best chance — as a quarterback. So two days after the draft he was in Minnesota’s quarterback room and working out with the red non-contact jersey.
“We got to the first practice — I was doing practice snaps, pre-game and all that, going through the plays, calling them out, all that stuff with the coaches,” Pindell said. “But during stretching the offensive coordinator said, ‘Why don’t you go with the running backs today?’ I didn’t put up a fight.”
The next day, they replaced his red jersey with a white one. He worked with the punt returners. His last practice with the Vikings came as a wide receiver.
“They got me playing everything but quarterback,” Pindell said. “They didn’t let me take a snap at all, see me throw or nothing.”
He joined the Bucs’ camp after being recruited by Tampa Bay offensive assistant Antwaan Randle El, who, like Pindell, played quarterback in college but became a productive receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins.
Pindell’s athleticism was evident, as was his inexperience as a receiver. He made it through mini-camp and was brought back for organized team activities but was released the week of July 15. He never took a snap under center for Tampa Bay, either.
“It was real frustrating because throughout the pre-draft process and training all the way up to my pro day, I was only training as a quarterback,” said Pindell. “I wasn’t doing anything else.”
Pindell has overcome much longer odds than the one he faces now. He nearly quit playing football as a high school sophomore before turning the corner as a junior and scoring a combined 44 touchdowns as a senior to lead the 9-1 Scorpions to their first playoff berth in a decade. He wasn’t heavily recruited but dominated at Lackawanna before making his way to UConn, where he will be remembered as one of the most dynamic players in program history.
It’s why he’s not ready to give up his dream. He has interest from the CFL and a workout in Atlanta Sept. 24-27 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats if an NFL team doesn’t call before then. He also has interest in the XFL, which is kicking off in eight cities in 2020.
But for now, Pindell stays sharp by throwing to former Oakland Mills teammates Tre Hopkins and Shawn Harris, among others, as often as he can at his old high school field. He posts his workout videos on social media — he has more than 65,000 followers on Instagram and nearly 13,000 on Twitter — with the hope of getting the attention of a team willing to give him a chance at quarterback.
“For me, it’s just whoever gives me an opportunity to play quarterback. I don’t want to go here and play receiver. I don’t want to do that; I just want to play quarterback,” Pindell said. “Right now, the CFL, every team that’s called [my agent] said they want me at quarterback because in that league they like athletic quarterbacks.
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“You’re going to get a hard-working player, a player that’s going to push the next guy to be his very best because you never know when your last opportunity will be. I’m one of the guys who wants to be the best player on the field. That’s one thing you’re going to get from me: a guy who wants to be the best and be a playmaker and win a lot of games.”