For Chykie Brown, the idea of making it to the NFL rested on the periphery of reality during his playing days at the youth and high school level. That only changed when he became a starter at Texas and his defensive backs coach Duane Akina encouraged him to think bigger.
"Once I started playing in college, that's when my coach opened my eyes and said, 'You know, you can play on the next level. It just depends on you and how you work,'" Brown recalled.
Brown proved his former coach right on Saturday when he earned a spot on the Ravens' 53-man roster. The team's first pick in the fifth round of the NFL draft in April, Brown sounded elated about his new future.
"It's a dream come true," he said. "This is what I've been waiting for my whole life. People always said it's hard to make the Ravens squad. So I think I've accomplished something that's big to a lot of people."
In addition to Brown, the organization elected to retain three more rookies thought to be on the proverbial bubble in wide receiver LaQuan Williams, defensive end Michael McAdoo and running back Anthony Allen.
Williams, a Poly graduate and undrafted free agent from the University of Maryland, caught four passes for 84 yards in the preseason. Perhaps even more impressive is that he averaged 35.5 yards on two punt returns and 30.5 yards on two kick returns.
"Got the opportunity to live out my dream," Williams wrote on his Twitter account (i_amQUAN). "Made the 53 man roster. Phase 1 complete now time to take my game to the next level."
In what may qualify as the most surprising turn of events, McAdoo confirmed via text message that he has made the team.
McAdoo joined the team one day after passing through the supplemental draft on Aug. 22. Because of his limited time with the organization, McAdoo was thought to be one of the 27 players that club would release on Saturday.
McAdoo, who did not play last season after the NCAA made 14 University of North Carolina players ineligible for accepting impermissible benefits from agents, did show a flash of his potential in the Ravens' 21-7 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night. He sacked quarterback John Parker Wilson and stripped him of the ball, leading to the team's final touchdown.
The decision to keep Allen, a seventh-round choice, means that all eight of the club's draft picks this year have made the team.
Allen's stay, however, meant an end for running back Jalen Parmele, a four-year veteran who acknowledged that he didn't anticipate being released by the Ravens on Saturday.
"We were shocked," he said shortly after announcing his release via Twitter. "I wasn't expecting it, but at the same time, you understand. Having been around long enough to know what goes on and the kind of business decisions are made, you can't take anything personally. You learn from it and realize that there's nothing you can do to change it. They're continually taking steps to try to make the team better. So it's just something that you understand, and you understand that it's a business decision."
Parmele tied Rice for the most carries in the preseason with 25, and he scored a touchdown. But Parmele managed just 76 yards and lost a fumble.
Defensive tackle Lamar Divens confirmed via text that the team had also waived him.
Asked if he was disappointed about his release, Divens wrote via text, "I'm fine...don't think I'll be out that long..."
Divens, a four-year veteran, had played in just three games since joining the Ravens for the 2008 season. He was stuck in a deep defensive tackle group that included starters Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody and backups Arthur Jones and Brandon McKinney
In addition to Parmele and Divens, the club also waived linebackers Tavares Gooden, Prescott Burgess and rookies Josh Bynes and Chavis Williams, wide receivers Marcus Smith, Brandon Jones and James Hardy, cornerbacks Danny Gorrer and rookies Talmadge Jackson and Josh Victorian, centers Jason Murphy and rookie Tim Barnes, tight ends Davon Drew and rookie Johdrick Morris, rookie defensive tackles Bryan Hall and Derek Simmons, and rookie safeties Mana Silva and Nate Williams.