Reyes was born and raised in Chile and was expected to enter the NFL via the International Pathway program, but he was signed by Washington to a standard player contract instead.
Sammis Reyes stands 6'7" and weighs 240 pounds. His background is reminiscent of players like Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham, all of whom played Division I basketball before developing into high level NFL tight ends. One local player, Mo Allie-Cox from VCU, played 4 years of basketball for the Rams before entering the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts, where he learned to play tight end and has been thriving since his entry into the league in 2017.
Unlike Allie-Cox, Reyes has played football before. According to the Washington team press release, Reyes grew up in Chile before he moved to the United States at the age of 14, when he starred as a basketball player at North Broward Prep in Florida. He was encouraged by the football coaches to play both sports, and went through a few practices as a tight end. He was primarily interested in basketball, however, and had concerns about getting injured on the football field and harming his basketball career. He never appeared in a game for the team.
"I wanted to go to the NBA; that was my dream my entire childhood, and of course it never happened," Reyes told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "So when I was 23, my current agent, my family and my close friends, they were like, ... 'You've got to give this football thing a shot. You're fast, you're strong, you're powerful.' So my friends, my best friends, and everybody around me convinced me to give it a shot."
Reyes eventually went to Tulsa, where he played Division I basketball. Now, similar to VCU forward turned Indianapolis Colts TE Mo Allie-Cox, he is ready to make the switch to the NFL.
Reyes attempted to enter the NFL through the International Pathway program, which provides foreign athletes with an opportunity to join an NFL team and compete at the professional level. Reyes spent 10 weeks training at the IMG Academy in Florida and then worked out in front of scouts at the University of Florida's Pro Day at the end of March.
The Washington front office and coaches were so impressed with the young player that they decided to sign him even before the program had ended.
Washington has had successful experience with the International Pathways progrm previously. Last year, they signed DE David Bada from Germany, who spent the 2020 season on the team's practice squad. Bada impressed coaches enough that he was signed to a contract to return to the team this season to compete for a spot on the regular roster.
Given Washington's lack of depth at the tight end position, Reyes seems to have a legitimate chance to land a spot on the 53-man regular roster. Earlier this week, Washington announced that it had released Thaddeus Moss, a high-profile tight end who was signed by the team after the draft last year, but who spent his entire rookie season on the injured reserve list. The only "proven" tight end on the roster is converted former QB, Logan Thomas, who had a breakout season last year, catching 72 passes for 670 yards and 6 TDs.
Washington is likely to also be looking for another proven tight end in this year's draft to supplement the existing depth chart, but the signing of Reyes will help relieve the pressure to reach for a prospect with one of Washington's 8 draft picks. The draft begins in just over two week's time, on April 29th.