You don’t have to play football for the Tennessee Titans to give you a shot.
Hasahn French, a 6-foot-7 forward from St. Louis University, is taking part in this week’s mandatory minicamp on a tryout basis. And what head coach Mike Vrabel is looking for isn’t necessarily football acumen from the basketball player who was a physical presence in the Atlantic 10 for the past four seasons. Instead, it’s a willingness to learn and get better through each drill.
“You’re looking for athletes. You’re looking for guys that learn,” Vrabel said Tuesday. “You understand that he may not know as much as the rest of these guys that have been here and played football in college and are trying to make this transition to the National Football League.
“But can they pick things up quickly? Do they improve from drill to drill? Will they Improve tomorrow? What kind of concepts can they grasp?”
Over the course of the mandatory minicamps, Vrabel hopes to answer these questions regarding French. One thing no one will question is his athleticism.
Football was French’s first sport growing up. His position of choice was running back. However, after a growth spurt, in eighth grade, he switched his focus to basketball.
It’s safe to say he did pretty well, claiming honors like second-team All-Atlantic 10 (2020), third-team All-Atlantic 10 (2019), and two Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team selections (2019, 2020).
Arguably, French’s best basketball game came on Nov. 23, 2019. He scored 21 points and grabbed tied an A-10 record with 24 rebounds.
While on the court, he was never much of a finesse player. He bruised and punished college frontcourts with his physicality. It is an approach that should serve him well in his pursuit of a career in football.
If it works out for French – with Tennessee or another team – he will join a formidable list of former basketball players who turned into NFL tight ends and found success. Some of the most notable are Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates.
French may never be a player of that caliber, but for Vrabel, he has to show there is reason to keep him around for the start of training camp and the preseason.
“They [have to] have a willingness to play a collision sport like football, played at the level which we feel like is important with great effort and finish,” Vrabel said.