The New York Guardians have had a crazy month and a half since mini-camps started in December. Things certainly have not gone according to plan for them (this can be said of most of the teams in the new XFL). Their offensive line had some bumps, bruises, highly drafted players failing physicals and trades to fill the gaps left by those who are hurt or cut. Things are coming more into focus now as we are about to leave Houston behind and end training camp with our expected final roster.
Of all the testing, changing and rotating expected in a training camp, one position battle has been one by someone not even initially drafted to play the position. On top of that, the player missed mini-camp as he was signed to an NFL practice squad! However, it is becoming very likely that when the Guardians line up on Feb 9th, 2020 at MetLife Stadium, you will find Ian Silberman as the starting Center.
Silberman is not new to changing things up and having to adapt to new situations during his football career. Silberman was a highly touted four-star recruit coming out of Fleming High School in Orange Park, Florida. Silberman eventually chose to attend the University of Florida, not a surprise as a native Floridian, but his career did not really go as would have hoped.
Never starting more than 4 games in any season at Florida, he transferred to Boston College after graduating to use the one extra year of eligibility he did not use due to redshirting one year in Florida. After initially stating he would go to Louisville, he decided to transfer to BC and stay with fellow Gator transfer, QB Tyler Murphy.
The change of school worked wonders for Silberman. He ended up starting all 13 games for BC at right tackle and earned All-ACC third-team honors. He was able to show off the strength and quickness that he was originally recruited for and was a real eye-opener for coaches and scouts who saw him play, many of whom initially came to recruit other players.
Because of his fine play, he was drafted in the 6th round of the 2015 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers. He only saw action in 1 game in his rookie season and spent most of it on the practice squad. He would be released by the 49ers. Before the start of the 2016 season. Little did Silberman know, he would not see action in another live game for 3 seasons.
He bounded around a few practice squads after leaving San Francisco. In 2016 he saw time on the practice squads of both New England and Oakland. Mike Tice, the then offensive line coach of the Raiders was impressed by Silberman.
Silberman was moved from Tackle to Guard when he came into the NFL and, despite his size, Tice tried Silberman out at Center which was more of a need for the Raiders at the time. Silberman adjusted well to the position, but still never played it in a regular-season game. Instead, he would be waived before the season started and got picked up by the Colts, who held on to him until November 2017, then he was signed by the Browns and Finally the back to the Raiders in December of the same year!
2018 was no easier a year for Silberman having been on the practice squad of the Titans and Panthers and in-between them he was on the Raiders a third time, this time playing in 2 regular-season games.
Finally, in 2019 he was on the Colts over the summer and ended up being drafted by the XFL New York Guardians, however, he would be picked up by the Arizona Cardinals shortly after the draft and did not report to mini-camp when it started with his teammates.
After being released by the Cardinals and not getting immediately picked up again, Silberman finally signed with the XFL near the end of Minicamp. Even though he was listed as a Guard, it became clear in training camp in Houston that coach Kevin Gilbride had other plans for his versatile offensive lineman. Silberman saw a lot of time at Center and started Center in the final scrimmage against the Vipers. Gilbride was quoted after practice by XFL.com as saying:
“Having Silberman back at center, he’s the key to the whole thing. He’s the traffic cop that tells everybody what they have to do in that short time frame you have,” said Gilbride. “Silberman was originally a guard but says he’s gotten more comfortable at center after working with coaches the past couple of years. It appears he has found a home hiking the ball for the Guardians. When asked if communication is getting better with the offensive line Silberman said “absolutely”.”
As training camp is now coming to an end, it appears that the Guardians have found their Center and leader of the offensive line in Ian Silberman. It may not be who they expected to be there and he may not even have expected to be in that role itself, but Football sometimes does imitate life and you must expect the unexpected and run with it.
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