Peyton Barber

When Auburn running back Peyton Barber declared for the NFL draft this past spring, he drew a lot of sideways glances. Many in-the-know felt that Barber, while a promising athlete, wasn't ready for the NFL, and had recommended he stay in college another year to further develop.

But Barber refused. He had an urgent need to get to the next level: His mother was homeless and in need of his financial support. So Barber declared for the NFL draft ... and went undrafted.

Still, opportunities came his way. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed him as an undrafted free agent, and he went through camp and preseason with the team. It wasn't until last week that the Bucs had to waive him to get their roster down to 53 players.

After clearing waivers, the Bucs signed him to a practice squad deal -- not the worst consolation prize, since practice-squad players earn $4,000 per week. But on Thursday, Barber got some amazing news: The team added him to its Week 1 active roster.

That means instead of $4,000 for the week, Barber will receive a game check worth around $28,000 -- and with the opportunity to earn even more in the following weeks.

Barber made the active roster in part due to an injury to Mike James, who is ahead of him on the depth chart. Still, it's a big moment for the young man who bet on himself. In the NFL, opportunity is fleeting, and Barber snagged himself a shot to prove himself.

For a man tasked with taking care of his mother, you have to think every week on the active roster will make a big impact on his and his mother's life. If you're looking for a player to root for, Barber is your guy. Let's hope he can continue proving his doubters wrong while building a better future for himself.