A little over a week ago we met a rookie wide receiver trying to earn a spot on the Carolina Panthers. His name is Brenton Bersin. He's a long shot from Charlotte who signed as a free agent, meaning he wasn't drafted by any team. His next big hurdle is to make it through the team's first cut on August 27.
When we first met Brenton Bersin, he was catching kickoffs in the Panthers walk-through practices down in Spartanburg at Wofford College.
Those surroundings were very familiar. He had been a stand-out wide receiver at Wofford and graduated back in May.
But now training camp is finished, and the team has returned to Charlotte full time. And Bersin is resting a lot easier. He’s back home living with his mother, sleeping in the bed he grew up in.
“It was awesome last night being able to sleep in a bed bigger than a twin,” he says.
He says the whole experience has been a good one. Even when he was the victim of some innocent rookie hazing.
Some of the veteran players filled the inside of Bersin’s car with packing peanuts—all the way up to the steering wheel. Then they wrapped the outside of the car in plastic wrap.
“It was like 10 full trash bags full of packing peanuts,” says Bersin. “It took about two hours. I had to slowly open the doors and drain them out into trash bags.”
But he did earn a little nickname from one of the team’s stars.
“So, I go back to practice, and Steve Smith comes up to me and he calls me the Fed Ex guy,” he says.
As far as his chances of making the team, Bersin says it’s hard to tell. Because the coaches aren’t showing their cards. He only gets a few plays during practice to perform, so that makes each one really important.
“You might be standing there at practice for an hour just watching, trying to get mental reps,” he says. “And the coach will call your name for one play, and you’ve just got to be ready right when they call your name.”
Last Saturday, Bersin got a pretty large stage to show his stuff.
The Panthers took on the Houston Texans in their first preseason game. Bersin had grown up going to the games and cheering from the stands, but that night…
“Being able to be in the tunnel with the smoke coming out, and the intro music, being able to run out there, wearing the jersey…it was like a dream come true,” he says.
Bersin didn’t get to play until there were two minutes left in the game. He was part of two plays. No passes were thrown his way. He wasn’t even touched by a defender.
But he’s keeping a positive outlook.
He’s wishing for another shot another shot tonight when the Panthers will be taking on the Miami Dolphins at Bank of America Stadium. He hopes his performance is enough to survive the first big cut on August 27th when the roster goes from over 90 to 75.