BILLINGS — On Sunday morning, Troy Bacon got the wake-up call plenty of football players dream of.
At approximately 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, Bacon's agent phoned with the good news that he was invited to an NFL rookie minicamp by the New Orleans Saints.
"I woke up this morning with my agent calling me with the good news," Bacon, a two-year starter at center for Rocky Mountain College, told 406mtsports.com. "It's a good way to start your Sunday for sure."
Bacon, a 6-foot-4, 310-pound two-time first-team All-Frontier Conference selection, didn't hesitate to accept the offer.
"I answered this morning and pretty much he told me straight up I just wanted to let you know we have an offer from the New Orleans Saints for rookie minicamp, what do you think about it? Of course I accepted it and just ran with it."
Bacon is the second member of this past year's Frontier Conference champion Battlin' Bears to be invited to an NFL minicamp. Tight end Darneail Jenkins, who will graduate from Rocky on May 4, was invited by the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday.
It’s a busy time in the NFL as the league’s draft started on Thursday and concluded on Saturday.
“I’m super happy for him. We were texting most of the draft and checking in on each other,” said Bacon of Jenkins. “He was one of the first couple of people to know I was going to the Saints and he let me know he was going to the Eagles. I’m happy for him.”
Jason Petrino, the head coach at Rocky before departing to become the defensive coordinator at Southern Illinois University this past offseason, was extremely happy for both Jenkins and Bacon.
“Both of those kids didn’t always have the easiest path,” Petrino told 406mtsports.com. “They worked through adversity and refused to let a dream die. They worked so hard for it and I am so happy they are getting a deserving chance.”
Petrino said Bacon was a team captain and both players were on the team’s leadership council.
“I’m so proud of both of them and blessed to be a part of their journey in this life,” Petrino said. “I got to be their coach, but more importantly I got to be a friend to them. I love them both dearly.”
Currently Bacon is living in Boise, Idaho. He has been working with a trainer in hopes of being in peak physical shape for this opportunity. He left Rocky at the end of the semester, is enrolled at Boise State and will earn an associate degree this spring.
Bacon was a 2018 honorable mention All-American for the Bears, who finished 8-4 and advanced to the first round of the NAIA playoffs.
It’s been a long journey for Bacon, who played for Rocky for two seasons. Before joining Rocky, the Oak Hills, California, native was at Boise State for two seasons, redshirting as a freshman. He then played football at Portland State.
“It’s been an incredible journey,” Bacon said, adding he’s grateful for all of his coaches and teammates at Boise State, Portland State and Rocky. “I’m not saying it’s over, for it to get to this point takes your breath away a little bit honestly.”
Chris Stutzriem, hired as Rocky’s head coach last December after serving as the offensive line coach at NCAA Division II Southwestern Oklahoma State for a season, was Rocky’s offensive coordinator in 2016 and 2017, coaching Bacon for a year.
“Troy is a very intelligent player with a great understanding of offensive line play,” Stutzriem said in a press release from the school. “He has been a great player, leader and person here at Rocky.”
Stutzriem told 406mtsports.com that Bacon and Jenkins receiving the NFL rookie minicamp invites demonstrates that "it doesn't matter the level, if you are good enough they will find you."
"They are both great ambassadors for our college," Stutzriem added.
Now, Bacon understands he has a shot to land on an NFL roster. In his mind, Bacon knows he just has to concentrate on doing the best he can. After, all he says “it’s one of those things when you go and psych yourself out, you won’t make it.”
“Stay humble, stay low, level headed and do what you do as a football player and everything will take care of itself,” he said.