A couple weeks ago, Weston Steelhammer thought his chances to land with an NFL team were pretty solid. 

He was a three-year starter at safety for Air Force, and even if he didn't hear his name called during the seven-round draft, there was a really good chance he was going to sign with a team as an undrafted free agent. 

Then he heard the news. 

The Air Force announced it would no longer allow its graduates to defer service to join pro sports teams. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Defense revised its policy to allow athletes, on a case-by-case basis, to defer service to turn pro. That policy hasn't changed, but the Air Force isn't allowing any of its cadets to defer. 

So unless something changes, Steelhammer will need to serve two years in the Air Force before entering ready reserve status, which would allow him to join a team. 

"Things didn't work out how we thought or how we hoped, but everything happens for a reason," Steelhammer said. "I'll just try to make the most of it." 

This weekend, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound safety is with the Eagles as one of 20 players on tryouts at the team's rookie camp. 

Steelhammer wasn't told privately about the policy change. Instead, he found out like everyone else; he read it in a newspaper story. And he isn't sure if there will be any kind of out. 


What have the last couple of weeks been like? 

"Taking it all in," he said. "It all came at once like a fire hose."

He'll graduate from the academy later this month and then has the summer off before he needs to report to a base in San Antonio. So, theoretically, Steelhammer could spend training camp with an NFL team. But what NFL team is going to use a roster spot on a player who isn't available for two years? 

Perhaps Steelhammer's being with the Eagles is because they wanted to look at a good player, but it's also possible it's a favor. Head coach Doug Pederson's oldest son Drew grew up with Steelhammer in Louisiana. The two played football together through middle school until Doug Pederson took a job with the Eagles under Andy Reid and moved the family north. 

"Like Coach P says, he's looking for football players and that's what I pride myself in," Steelhammer said. "I know I'm not the biggest, not the fastest one out there. I just love the game, love playing it and try to go from there."

It wasn't just Steelhammer who was affected by this ruling from the Air Force. His teammate Jalen Robinette, the all-time leading receiver at Air Force, would have likely been drafted had it not been for the policy change. 

Robinette, in the same predicament as Steelhammer, is in Buffalo this weekend for a tryout of his own. 

"It wasn't how we expected the weekend to go, but we both have a shot, him being in Buffalo this week and me being in Philadelphia this week," Steelhammer said. "Just trying to make a name for ourselves."

While Steelhammer tries to make a name for himself, the name he already has stands out in a crowd. He might never make an NFL roster, but he's already a first-teamer on the all-time name squad. 

But Steelhammer doesn't know much about his surname other than "it came from great, great, greats out in Germany."

The jokes come pretty easy with a name like Steelhammer. He even said Saturday Night Live used his name for a porn star play, which didn't please his parents much. 

Unfortunately for Steelhammer, it might be impossible for his name to stay on the back of an NFL jersey. While he has kept a positive attitude through what seems to be an impossible situation, there doesn't appear to be an out. 

And unless one arises, he's going to have to serve for two years before even getting another shot at the NFL. He plans on prioritizing his time and keeping his body in football shape. 

But will teams still be interested in two years? 

"I hope," Steelhammer said. "I'm gonna do what I can do and let everything else fall into place. Got a chance this week to catch an eye or two, so going to try to do my best."