Raysean Pringle was nine years old in 2002 when the Oakland Raiders went to the Super Bowl.
The Oakland-native remembers watching Rich Gannon and the Silver and Black on that afternoon in San Diego, but little did he know that fifteen years, and a few position changes later, he would fulfill a childhood dream of playing for his hometown team.
After playing prep football at Tennyson High School in Hayward, then playing collegiately at Southern Utah University – with fellow Raider James Cowser, by the way – after going undrafted in 2017, Pringle made a switch, shifting to the defensive side of the football for the first time in his career.
“When I came out of high school, I was an offensive player, running back and slot, played it all four years, just recently made a switch when I came out, when I signed with Green Bay,” explained Pringle. “I had signed with them as a corner, that’s when I converted, so yeah, it’s pretty interesting, and different. It was cool though.”
So, after spending much of his football career with the ball in his hand, how did Pringle respond to being asked to flip sides, and now shut down the big plays he was once making?
“As far as footwork, it’s kind of similar to receiver, because you know receivers and DBs, they have to have quick feet,” Pringle said. “But I think that it helped me, from playing offense, it kind of helped me, as far as route running and stuff like that, so I think that helped. The only thing that was really hard for me was press, and my technique and stuff, but that was pretty much the biggest downfall that I have to work on.”
Pringle spent his rookie season with the Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars – strictly on the practice squad – but after finding himself without a team this offseason, and ultimately for the first few weeks of training camp, Pringle finally got his shot, working out for the Raiders, then signing with the team Monday.
It was a whirlwind 48 hours for the converted defensive back, one that concluded with him taking the practice field just hours after the ink was dry on his deal.
“I’m pretty much playing catchup,” Pringle said, in reference to the timing of his signing. “Speaking of yesterday [Monday], it was like my real first day. Whenever Coach put me in, I was just trying to play fast. I was just trying to do it 100 percent.”
And Pringle did make some nice plays his first day on the field, tallying a pair of passes defensed – a good start for a player trying to make some noise in a position group ripe with competition.
Head Coach Jon Gruden has made it clear that while competition is the name of the game across the roster, that edict is especially true for the Raiders’ defensive backs, where few things – if any – are set in stone headed into the preseason.
But, as of now, Pringle isn’t looking too far down the road to roster reduction day, he’s taking it one day at a time, staying in his playbook, and preparing for the preseason opener against the Detroit Lions.
“I have no control on who makes the roster, the depth chart, none of that,” Pringle said. “I just come in, they brought me in, I guess they saw what they liked, so I’m just here to do my job, and I’m just trying to hurry up and study the playbook, so I can hurry up and just play well, the best way I can, so that’s my main thing, just learning the playbook right now.”
Speaking of Friday night, when No. 43 takes the field for the first time in Silver and Black, he’ll be fulfilling a childhood dream, and regardless of what happens over the next month, Pringle knows that’s an opportunity few are afforded.
“It didn’t really hit me until like I think [Monday] morning when I was putting on pads, and I was in the locker room, and everything around me said Raiders,” he said. “It was kind of like, oh snap, I’m playing for the hometown team. That’s who I grew up watching, so it’s a pretty cool experience. Most people don’t get to experience that, playing for the hometown team at the highest level, so I’m blessed for that.”