It makes perfect sense that Fernando Velasco started playing golf, a game that requires patience.
The former Jefferson County High School football star showed perseverance when he was asked to redshirt his junior year at the University of Georgia. Then, he showed more fortitude after getting waived by the Tennessee Titans and then returning to play for the team’s practice squad for two seasons.
Now, Velasco is watching his patience reap rewards. When the Titans training camp begins next Friday, he will be vying for the starting center position. The past two seasons, he served as the team’s primary backup at guard and center. Entering this fall, the 6-foot-4, 312-pound Velasco is considered a serious contender to become the No. 1 center.
“I’m hoping to win the job,” he said. “Mini-camp was good. OTA (Organized Team Activities) went good. Just a lot of positives. I’m just trying to work hard and get better every day.”
The 27-year-old Velasco was signed by the Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2008.
He spent time on the team’s practice squad that season and returned to it in 2009. Those seasons, he said, were much like when he redshirted in 2005 at Georgia.
“It was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Velasco said. “It allowed me to mature from a football standpoint and a personal standpoint. It’s been a blessing.”
The past two seasons, Velasco has seen time as a backup in 32 games, starting three in 2010. This year, he’s hoping to do more to help the Titans return to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
“I think we’re going to be much improved this year,” he said. “I think we’re going to be pretty good.”
Velasco is hoping to one day become good at golf. Earlier this year, he bought a set of clubs, began taking lessons and fell in love with the sport.
Velasco is hoping he’ll improve enough so he won’t have a repeat performance when he plays Jefferson County football coach J.B. Arnold – Velasco lost to his old coach recently in a match in Wrens, Ga.
“I didn’t play as good as I would’ve hoped,” he said. “We’re going to have a rematch next time I come to town.”