Courtney Gardner is taking the road less traveled to the NFL.

But the 6-4 receiver hopes to make the most of his opportunity with the Miami Dolphins, after having just two years experience at Sierra Junior College.

“It is about stepping up to the expectations and coming out here learning from the best, and getting better every day,” Gardner told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Gardner originally committed to the University of Nevada, but did not qualify academically. He then went the junior college route and was an All-American, who had offers to attend LSU and Oklahoma. He also, however, had two arrests, and decided not to go Division I, but instead try his luck in the NFL.

“I was older,” said Gardner, who turns 23 on June 10. “Physically and athletically I think I can play on the next level. I just need a chance to show my athletic ability.”

Gardner, who turns 23 next week, joined the San Diego Chargers after going undrafted, but was let go after he did not attend a rookie mini-camp for what was termed "personal reasons." He is getting another look now with Miami, but he knows he doesn't have much room for error left if he wants to play professional football.

“They were strict [admitting] I have no leeway,” Gardner said. “I’ve been in some trouble and I told them I’d try my best to stay out of trouble. Everything is behind me now.”

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Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com