CARLISLE, Pa. -- When Chris Hakel was growing up a short drive from the Washington Redskins' training camp at Dickinson College, his father, Mickey, often brought him to watch the team practice.
Hakel never even had an idle thought -- much less a dream -- that he could wind up playing for the team.
"No," he said emphatically. "Never did I ever think that. No."
He now has a chance to live the dream he never dreamt.
Hakel, who spent a year of apprenticeship on the team's injured reserve squad last year, is expected to be the team's third quarterback this year behind Mark Rypien and Cary Conklin now that Jeff Rutledge has departed.
In today's scrimmage against the Pittsburgh Steelers, though, he'll be more than that. He'll be the main guy.
Rypien is being held out except for the seven-on-seven drills because the scrimmage is mainly for the young players. Conklin can't go because his knee is tender.
That leaves Hakel, who was drafted out of William & Mary last year, to do most of the throwing and get a chance to impress the coaches.
Although free agent Chris Cochrane will get some work, this is Hakel's day.
Coach Richie Petitbon likes what he's seen so far, but he wants to see more against the Steelers.
"I think he's an excellent thrower. I think he's made some great throws in camp. He's a kid who's going to have to play a lot," Petitbon said.
Hakel said he knows what this scrimmage means to him.
"I need to take this as my big opportunity," he said. "Everything is going to be funneled down into one big afternoon for me. You get one shot and if you screw it up, that's what people remember. You try not to think about it. You try to just go out,
play your game and let everything take care of itself."
If there's one person who's looking forward to it even more than Hakel, it's his father. He's been on vacation taking in every practice.
"If there's something that would be more exciting, I haven't run across it yet," Mickey Hakel said. "I've always been a football fan, and to be able to watch this close at this level and then to have your son be one of the people out there is very exciting."
Mickey Hakel played high school football in Erie, Pa., where he was a co-captain with Fred Biletnikoff, who went on to be Hall of Fame receiver with the Oakland Raiders. Hakel has been a regular at Redskins camp since the family moved to Mechanicsburg, Pa., in 1978.
Chris Hakel started his last two years at William & Mary, but he never thought about pro football as a career until his senior year, when scouts started giving him attention.
His father couldn't believe it when he was drafted on the fourth round by the Redskins.
"I still have trouble talking about it," he said. "It was the biggest thrill I ever had."
Chris Hakel said it's no longer unbelieveable for him to be in Redskins camp. "The fantasy part has worn off," he said. Now it's time for Hakel to show he belongs.