IRVING, Texas – When the Cowboys reported for training camp on July 19, most of the NFL still had about a week to go before camps started.
But whether players were already in camp or getting ready for one, George Selvie remained on his couch, with his phone nearby.
In the meantime, his humbleness grew, but it didn't stop him from working out every day, keeping the hunger inside of him, if and when, a team ever called.
That call came early in the morning on July 24. Selvie was in Florida getting ready for a workout when his agent told him to get on a plane and head to Oxnard, Calif. The Dallas Cowboys were calling and wanted him to help a depleted defensive-line position.
To everyone else, George Selvie was a training camp body just trying to fill in. To George Selvie, this was his shot – perhaps his last one.
Two months later, Selvie isn't just starting at defensive end for the Cowboys, but he's playing at a high level. In fact, the only reason many Dallas fans aren't completely bummed of the news Anthony Spencer is out for the season needing knee surgery is because of Selvie's emergence in the last few weeks. [embedded_ad]
Now, even Selvie knows it'll be hard to duplicate the production of Spencer, but he's definitely willing to try.
"He's one of the best players on our defense, if not the best player last year," Selvie said of Spencer. "He's going to be missed. Mindset-wise, I just have to get out there and make the most of this opportunity."
To this point, Selvie has already done just that.
From the minute he arrived at camp in Oxnard, Selvie started turning heads. Because of Spencer's injury, coupled with the loss of Tyrone Crawford and injuries to Ben Bass, Selvie stepped right in and was practicing on his first day with the club.
Then came the preseason opener against the Dolphins in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton. Selvie had two sacks and three more pressures, showing the entire NFL world that he wasn't taking this latest opportunity for granted.
Selvie was a seventh-round pick of the Rams in 2010 and spent a year in St. Louis before being released and signed by the Panthers and later Jacksonville. In April of 2013, Tampa Bay signed him but kept him around for only a month.
But now with the Cowboys he resembles the player he was at South Florida, where he teamed up with Giants star Jason Pierre-Paul as one of the NCAA's best pass-rushing tandems. Actually, Selvie said this scheme in Dallas is closer to his collegiate days than anything else he's played under in the NFL.
"It's a great scheme. You just go out there and attack. It's just going out there and having fun. That's what our coaches encourage us to do every day," Selvie said. "I've been in schemes where I have to drop a lot. I'm not the greatest in coverage in the world. I want to go out there to sack the quarterback."
Selvie has two sacks in three games and ranks third on the defense in quarterback pressures. He also knows playing opposite DeMarcus Ware will give him plenty of one-on-one matchups along the way. And the play of Jason Hatcher at defensive tackle should free things up even more.
But asked to name a bigger reason for his turnaround, Selvie points to defensive line coach Rod Marinelli.
"I can't start with what I've learned from him," Selvie said. "He's a great coach and he knows the game. He's passionate about it. He's a great coach and a great motivator. Having a coach that believes in you is a big deal."
More than just his position coach, Selvie's head coach isn't just a big fan of Selvie's work, he said this is a perfect example of a player taking advantage of his opportunity and hopes it can rub off on other players.
"One of the things we talk about all the time as a football team, as an organization, is next man up," head coach Jason Garrett said. "The next man up has been George Selvie for most of training camp and the preseason and the start of the season. He's taken full advantage of his opportunity to play. We have some other guys we've brought in in recent weeks who will be involved in that mix as well. We will give those guys opportunities going forward, but George is the guy who is going to take his place. He's done a good job so far, and we'll continue to expect great things from him."
With Spencer's future with the Cowboys in doubt, Selvie might have found a spot to call home here in Dallas. He signed a two-year deal, but says his focus right now is only on the Chargers.
Yet, his teammates are already thinking otherwise.
"He's playing his best football – I'm happy for him," Hatcher said. "I hope he gets a big deal one day and breaks the bank. He's showed a lot; we got all the confidence in the world. Me and D-Ware talk about it all the time. I don't know where those guys came from, but they came at the right time. They're playing some great football, and I wouldn't trade them for the world. I'm happy they're here."
And Selvie seems pretty happy to be here, too, especially considering the road he's traveled to get here.
"It's hard to believe that I'm in the place I'm in now," Selvie said. "Coming from where I came from … I was sitting on my couch and I didn't get a phone call. Somebody got hurt. I don't wish that on anyone, but it gave me an opportunity."
Asked if he's relieved to get this opportunity, Selvie was quick to dismiss that notion.
"There's no sense of relief," he said. "If I go out here and don't do anything for the next four weeks, I could be out of here. So I just focus on making plays and keeping it going."