It’s shaping up to be a disappointing, lonely weekend for Josh Kline, but the 2008 graduate of Mason High School isn’t about to complain.
Not when the trade-off is a chance to live his dream of playing in the NFL.
As a member of the New England Patriots practice squad, Kline is not permitted to travel with the team, so while his teammates fly to Cincinnati today to play the Bengals on Sunday, Kline will be back in Boston watching on television.
“It will be a little tough, but that’s just how it is,” Kline said. “It would be very nice to go back to my home city, I’m glad where I am right now. I’m happy to be a member of this practice squad.”
The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Kline was a history major at Kent State, where he twice was voted second team All-Mid-American Conference. He went into the NFL Draft with hopes of being drafted, but he said he knew the more realistic path to the NFL would be to sign as an undrafted free agent.
There were offers from several teams, but Kline said New England was the best fit.
“I met with a couple of the coaches before the draft and really liked them, and they really liked me and wanted me to come there,” Kline said. “It’s a Class A organization, and they also have a history of bringing free agents in to start.”
While Kline has yet to take a snap in a regular-season game, he was called up to the 53-man roster ahead of the Buffalo game. And he saw substantial action in the preseason, playing 193 of 287 snaps (67 percent), including all 65 in the preseason finale against the New York Giants.
“I got a lot of experience, and I knew if I got cut I’d have a lot of film out there for other teams to look at,” Kline said. “I thought the preseason went well. I got my feet wet and felt like I learned somewhat what it’s like to be a pro. I’m still learning, but I got a little glimpse of it.”
Kline was one of the final cuts when the Patriots had to pare their roster to 53, but the Patriots immediately resigned him after he cleared waivers.
“I knew he was going to be successful because he was just mean and fierce and loved to compete,” Mason football coach Brian Castner said. “The combination of wrestling and football and the two great coaching staffs really helped him mature.”
As exciting as life in the NFL is for Kline, he stays in contact with Castner and assistant coach Paul Barry and said some of his fondest memories were made at Mason, especially during his senior year, when he won the 285-pound state wrestling championship with a record of 45-1.
“It was so special because it was an individual thing, and no one can ever take that away from you,” Kline said. “Having your state title and your picture up on the wall in the wrestling room and your name up in the gymnasium, it’s just a real cool thing to see every time I go back there. So I’ll always have that. It seems like such a long time ago now that I think about it, but it’s one of my greatest accomplishments.”
Patriots (4-0) at Bengals (2-2), 1 p.m., CBS, 700-AM, 1530-AM, 102.7-FM, 104.7-FM