FRISCO, Texas –While there are plenty of tour guides running around The Star, the Cowboys' first-round draft pick could probably give one as well, if needed.
For Leighton Vander Esch, Thursday was the fourth time he's been to the Cowboys' headquarters, unlike many of his rookie classmates that made their way to the complex for the first time.
Friday is the start of the three-day rookie minicamp, which the Cowboys are calling an orientation on the field.
Vander Esch made a visit to The Star back in January, then another in early April for the 30-player visit, before coming here on April 27 after being drafted in the first round.
"Yeah, I know my way around now," Vander Esch said Thursday, in the middle of the rookies' first day, which includes physicals, getting fitted for equipment, taking headshots and for some of the undrafted players, signing their contracts. "Now it's really sinking in deep. You realize you're actually here and getting ready for camp and getting going and getting ready for camp. It's awesome. It's exciting."
While the next few days will include the rookies and first-year players only, Vander Esch said it's a great time for the youngsters to bond as a unit, before getting acclimated with the entire roster.
As the first round pick, Vander Esch knows he can set the tone for the entire weekend, something he'll try to do on the field.
"Getting out there and being a field general," Vander Esch said of his top priority for the minicamp. "Showing what I'm capable of and getting into football stuff."
Whether he's playing alongside him or not, Vander Esch knows the comparisons to Sean Lee or inevitable. The rookie said he's met Lee once already and can't wait to pick his brain about everything that comes with the job.
"Yeah I've talked to Sean in the weight room and talked to him for about 20 minutes in there," Vander Esch said. "Just getting to know him and what he's all about. You can tell the dude loves football. He's super intense and I look forward to learning under him."
Vander Esch is expected to play middle linebacker, but has the ability to play all three positions across the line.
He's said several times after being drafted that he's open to any position.
"It doesn't matter to me. I like the middle. But I'm ready for anything. I'm just ready to get started."
Come Friday, Vander Esch won't have to wait any longer.