Before becoming an NFL tight end — and yes, after he made it onto Washington's initial 53-man roster, that label can officially stick — Sammis Reyes had visions of playing in the NBA. And as he was seeing those visions, he looked up to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
However, even as Reyes has transitioned to football, he still views Bryant as his "biggest idol." There's one part of Bryant's abilities that he especially appreciated, too, and it's something that he hopes he can one day say about his own skillset.
"Kobe didn't have any holes in his game," Reyes told reporters Wednesday in a press conference. "He was able to fulfill all of the aspects of being a complete basketball player.
"Our coach, coach [Pete] Hoener, he always talks about being a complete tight end and that just reminds me of Kobe's mentality."
Reyes certainly has many more attributes to develop before he is what Hoener is pushing him to become. Way more.
But for a guy who's only donned a real uniform twice in his football career — with both of those appearances coming in the last three weeks — he's started in promising fashion.
"It’s been very exciting watching Sammis," Washington GM Martin Mayhew said on Tuesday. "He's improved dramatically from going back to when he first got here. He has every tool that you want as an athlete."
What's encouraging about Reyes is that it's not only his physical talents that stand out. On top of those, he also comes across as completely committed to bettering his understanding of the sport so he can, in turn, get better at playing it.
That's a necessary trait to have, seeing as his peers and opponents truly have years and years' worth of a head start on him.
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"I know you guys see all the training and the weightlifting and all the hours that we spend here at the facility, but it's been so much more than that," Reyes said. "It takes me longer to understand what we're trying to do with the offense, it takes me longer to understand the plays and to understand the concepts of what we're trying to accomplish, so it takes me extra work."
One example of his off-field dedication is that he will sit at his desk at home and block "every single play on paper," as he explained. By going through that exercise, he's more prepared to execute that part of his duties in live action.
There was also the habit he built up of finding audio during his shifts as a DoorDash driver (a gig he had before being signed by Washington in April) that featured people breaking down things like what a 4-3 defense is. Those were crucial in helping him grasp ideas that were once unknown to him.
There will be major and humbling learning experiences in the future, though, like there was in Washington's preseason finale against Baltimore. In that contest, the Ravens did a few things with their blitzes that Reyes "hadn't seen before."
"The only team that I've really played against is our defense," he said Wednesday, which acted as a perfect reminder of how absurd what he's attempting to pull off really is.
Even so, Reyes keeps advancing. It wasn't long ago that putting on a helmet registered as a milestone. Now, he's on a legitimate depth chart as legitimate contests approach.
But he's not done, either. Not close.
"The main thing that matters is what you think of yourself, and what I think of myself is: I belong here," Reyes said. "I can't wait to get out there and show that I'm ready."