Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Jayson DiManche took the underdog story by the horns this year. He was one of the featured stories on HBO's Hard Knocks as an undrafted free agent that fought through training camp and the preseason to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. It's hard to forget his enthusiasm for making the roster, while in his hotel room with an emotional phone conversation with his mother.
In the end, DiManche wasn't just some body to have on the 53-man roster. DiManche played every game as a rookie this year, finishing second on the team with 10 special teams tackles and blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns. One of the key plays for that game.
"It’s been a dream come true to say the least,’’ DiManche said via The Times of Trenton, a newspaper in New Jersey "I've been playing. I've made an impact in some games. I’m proving I belong. And now, we’re going to the playoffs. It’s all been great.’’
It wasn't just the blocked punt that highlighted the season for DiManche either, Mark Eckel writes.
"I guess the highlight of my season thus far was against the Jets," DiManche said. "Running down on the opening kickoff and making a big hit on Josh Cribbs, I think that set the tone for me for the season. I showed my teammates right there that I was going to contribute and help out wherever they needed me."