Ryan McGrath has been in New Orleans once before, for the R+L Carriers Bowl in 2010.
"It's a great town with great people," McGrath said. "It's a really fun town."
If things go according to plans, it will be a lot more fun for McGrath in the coming months, and he better start developing a taste for jumbalaya and Mardi Gras.
McGrath, the 6-foot-6, 304-pound right tackle from Hollidaysburg via Ohio University, has landed a tryout with the New Orleans Saints this week.
McGrath will head to Louisiana for rookie camp on Thursday. He'll have team meetings that night and workouts for the next couple of days.
Should the Saints like what they see, he'll be brought back for mini-camp with the veterans and continue his quest to land a spot on the New Orleans roster.
"It's a good feeling. It's just a reminder that hard work pays off," McGrath said in a phone interview from his home in Hollidaysburg on Monday. "It's always been a lifelong dream. I always believed I could, and I just strived for it."
"There's still a lot of work to do."
Work isn't a problem for McGrath, who rebounded from a broken leg Bobcats coach Frank Solich called "a horrific injury" in the final regular season game of 2012 to come back and perform almost as well in 2013. McGrath graded out at 1.8 on a 2.0 scale his senior year.
"You'd think a guy would be a little tenative, but that's not the type of guy he is," Ohio offensive line coach Keven Lightner told the Athens, Ohio, Messenger before the start of the season. "If I didn't know any better, I wouldn't even have suspected anything."
McGrath, who played in the NFLPA All-Star Game following his senior season, had a couple of NFL teams looking at him, and there had been some consideration that he could be a late-round draft pick. When his name wasn't called on Saturday, he and Columbus, Ohio-based agent Jim Chapman discussed ther options and decided on the Saints.
"We just felt New Orleans was the best place to go," McGrath said. "They really were interested in me and they have some need at the tackle position, so it's a good fit for me."
Ourlads Guide to the NFL Draft listed offensive line as the No. 1 area of need for the Saints, but the only player New Orleans picked at the position was Kansas tackle Tavon Rooks in the sixth round.
Although the starting unit looks solid, there isn't a lot of depth there. McGrath, who was seen as a potential guard prospect by some scouting services heading into the draft, has the possibility to earn a spot at several positions, or even as a utility lineman.
"I'm open to play whatever position can get me on the field. Guard. Both tackles," McGrath said. "They see me as a versatile lineman that can play inside and outside."
The Saints are coming off an 11-5 season in which they finished second in the NFC South and lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, 23-15, in the divisional round of the playoffs. New Orleans has finished first or second in its division in nine of the last 14 years.
"They've solidified themselves as a team that's in the playoffs almost every year," McGrath said. "They're definitely an organization that I'm proud to be going to."
McGrath was hoping to get drafted, but it wasn't crushing to the former Golden Tiger lineman to go this route.
"My ultimate goal was to get drafted," McGrath said. "But sometimes it's nice to get the free agency options because you're open to go where you want and find the best fit."
Nicknamed "Bloodbath" at Ohio because of his toughness, McGrath said he hopes that quality will be enough to make the Saints want to keep him on.
"I'm not going to do anything different than I did in my college career," McGrath said. "I'm just going to go out there and try to play physical. I think that's the main thing in the NFL. It's a physical game. If you're not physical, you don't make it."