Travis Toivonen was a standout wide receiver with Red Wing before playing college football at the University of North Dakota and now professionally with the Seattle Seahawks. File photo

You never know when a life-changing opportunity can arise. For Red Wing native Travis Toivonen, that moment happened last Thursday when he received a call from his agent that the Seattle Seahawks were interested in having him come in for a workout. Next thing he knew, he was signing a non-guaranteed three-year contract with the NFL team with the opportunity to live out his dream.

Toivonen’s football journey began with a monster final two years as a Winger, in which he caught 95 passes for 1,947 yards and 18 touchdowns. His skills landed him an offer from the University of North Dakota, where he finished his four-year career with 139 receptions and 1,719 yards and 13 TDs.

The COVID-19 pandemic derailed his aspirations to be a NFL player, so he spent the first three months of the year playing in the Fan Controlled Football League, putting his name out in the football circles with some highlight plays. In April, he held a pro day at the University of Minnesota, but the airwaves went silent for the next month and a half.

Without a word from any NFL team and organized team activities ramping up, Toivonen was beginning to make plans for what to do if football wasn’t an option this fall. 

That’s when everything changed for the Red Wing star athlete.

After the call with the agent last Thursday, the Seahawks flew Toivonen to Seattle on Sunday night. The next morning he had a physical, underwent COVID testing and, before he knew it, was in the Seahawks team facility for a workout. Toivonen and three other wide receivers all underwent a series of physical tests and route-running drills under the watchful eyes of head coach Pete Carroll, general manager John Schneider, and the rest of the Seahawks coaching staff. 

Despite knowing that it was likely only one of the four wide receivers would stick around with the team after the workout, Toivonen said he wasn’t really nervous that day.

“I was really nervous for my pro day at the University of Minnesota, and I think that helped get the nerves out of the way for this one,” he said. “I was still obviously nervous, but I wasn’t letting it affect me. I kind of went out there and just had fun with it and I performed really well.”

The Seahawks staff thought so as well, since they offered him a contract on Tuesday, which Toivonen promptly signed.

“It's just been mind blowing. Going into the NFL facility and everything's so nice, all the coaches have been really welcoming,” Toivonen said. “Coach Caroll’s son is the wide receivers coach. I’ve only known him for two days now so really early on, but I’ve really enjoyed him, he’s a really good guy.”

With OTAs halfway done, Toivonen will have Thursday and Friday this week to showcase his skills before minicamp begins next week. After that it will be training camp in July-August with yet to be determined dates. If all goes well, Toivonen will put on a Seahawks uniform for their first preseason game in Las Vegas on Aug. 14.

But Toivonen is taking things day to day, enjoying every moment and making sure he soaks up as much information as possible.

“I just want to make the roster any way possible,” he said. “One of my college coaches told me to get involved in every single special teams drill that I can. That’s a very realistic option for someone like myself. I just need to bust my ass in every part of the game and figure out any way I can to get on that field on Sundays.”

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