Carlin Isles is still focused on making the Olympics in 2016, but he isn’t giving up on his NFL dream either.
Isles, a member of the United States Rugby Sevens team who briefly joined the Detroit Lions practice squad at the end of the 2013 season, said he would like to give the NFL another shot. The question is when.
“Hopefully soon,” Isles told ESPN.com. “Not wait so long. I know with my speed and my ability, I know what I can do, and I know I can play with those guys because I’ve seen guys I’ve played with in college make the NFL.
“My running ability and things like that, I know I can catch the ball. I know I can catch the ball. I just know what I can do.”
The “soon” will depend on whether or not the United States qualifies for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil in rugby sevens. The US can qualify in three ways -- with a top four finish in the World Rugby Sevens series, winning the North America and Caribbean championship in 2015 on June 13-14 or a final Olympic qualifying tournament later this year.
Isles told ESPN he would look to join an NFL team either after the Olympics are over should the United States qualify or soon after the Americans were eliminated from Olympic contention if they were not.
“I’m going to give it another shot,” Isles said. “That’s a safe guarantee.”
Isles initially signed with the Lions on Dec. 26, 2013 and practiced during the final week of the regular season with the team. He then signed a futures/reserves deal for 2014, but left the NFL for a contract with the Glasgow Warriors in the Scottish rugby side.
The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Isles is still considered the fastest man in rugby and is still at an age where he could take the chance to make the NFL if he wants to. He turns 26 on Nov. 21 and would likely be no older than 26 or 27 years old if he were to make the jump following the 2016 Olympics.
Isles said some contractual issues between his NFL deal and the deal he signed with the Scottish rugby club made returning to the NFL difficult. Plus, with the Olympics in focus for rugby -- that was always a dream of his -- and he didn’t want to abandon that for what he understood would be a long road to an NFL roster.
If he committed to the NFL then and was cut after training camp, he knew there was a chance he might be back to the beginning for both sports.
“My dream is to go to the Olympics and represent my country, and that’s one of the goals that I wanted to do,” Isles said. “I know in the next couple of months, I will see if that will be my reality or not with qualifications so I’m thinking either May or June I will know and depending on that, I will go from there.“