Kyle Sloter hopes one day he'll be talked about in the same light as Kurt Warner or Tony Romo – undrafted quarterbacks from small colleges, who when finally given their chance play in the NFL, made the most of that opportunity.
Sloter understands his NFL reality. Quarterbacks are drafted to be the face of the franchise, and teams play quarterbacks they've put resources into acquiring. So Sloter has waited for his opportunity.
"There's not many guys like the Tony Romo's and Kurt Warner's walking around for good reason," Sloter said Monday.
Sloter carries around a chip on his shoulder that comes with being told his entire football career that he isn't good enough.
Even before Sloter became a standout quarterback at Mount Pisgah Christian High in Georgia, he said he only landed there because his first high school said he wasn't good enough to play quarterback for them.
Sloter was just a two-star recruit, despite throwing for more than 6,000 yards and rushing for another 3,000 yards with 87 career touchdowns in high school.
He got a scholarship offer from Southern Miss and redshirted his first year. When coach Ellis Johnson was fired and replaced with Todd Monken, Sloter found himself at the bottom of the quarterback depth chart, so he asked to play receiver. He played receiver sparingly and eventually transferred to Northern Colorado to give quarterback another try.
He won the backup quarterback job as a senior at Northern Colorado. When starter Jacob Knipp was injured early in the second game of the year, Sloter stepped in and threw for 407 yards and six touchdowns. He was the starter from then on, and ended the season with 2,665 yards, 29 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
He didn't get an invite to the 2017 NFL Combine, and eventually signed with Denver as an undrafted free agent. He completed 31 of 43 passes for 413 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in the preseason for a passer rating of 125.4, the highest of any rookie quarterback that preseason, but was still cut following the preseason.
He landed on Minnesota's practice squad, and eventually made the active roster for the Vikings as a backup, but never played in a regular-season game in his three seasons in Minnesota.
The Lions signed Sloter off Arizona's practice squad following the injury to Jeff Driskel a little over a month ago.
"Everybody has been doubting me my whole life, and at no point have they been right," Sloter said.
"I know I can be a starter in this league. Nothing so far in this league has told me that I can't be. I'm just waiting for an opportunity. So whenever that comes, I'm going to try to be ready."
Whether or not he'll get an opportunity to play Sunday in Detroit's regular season finale against Green Bay, we'll see, but Sloter certainly has an unwavering belief in himself and his ability to play the position.
Asked about Sloter Monday, Lions head coach Matt Patricia said he's confident Sloter could go out and execute the game plan if asked to do so.
That chip Sloter carries around on his shoulder is very real. He's even kept negative press clippings and letters he's received over the years.
"I've got some things from high school, from college, got a couple things from some reporters back in Minnesota that I keep taped up on a mirror," he said. "Those guys are what keep me going, for sure.
"I'm not an, 'I told you so' kind of guy, but I definitely think about it."
Sloter said he's the kind of guy that gets fueled off people telling him he can't do something.
"Having an unwavering belief in yourself is what sets guys apart," he said. "Whether I go out there in my first time and I tear it up or I don't, I'm going to come back the next week and believe that I can do it just because that's the type of person that I am.
"I've always believed that that's the type of person that it takes to be successful in anything. You can't listen to what other people are saying because you're always going to have guys that doubt you and tell you you can't do something."