Four Aggies get a shot at living out NFL dreams

Four Aggies get a shot at living out NFL dreams

Photo Credits: JUSTIN HAN, NICHOLAS CHAN, ALEXA FONTANILLA, AND JULI PEREZ / AGGIE

Doss, Moe, Olave, White will participate in rookie mini-camps

A quartet of former UC Davis football players will have an opportunity to continue their careers at the next level after getting the call from four different NFL franchises following last month’s NFL Draft.

Wide receiver Keelan Doss and linebacker Mason Moe both signed rookie contracts and will join their teams as undrafted free agents. Doss will stay very close to his hometown of Alameda and compete for a spot on the Oakland Raiders. He participated in the team’s rookie mini-camp during the first weekend of May, which is a three-day workout all of the 32 NFL franchises hold for their newest players out of college.

Moe, an All-Big Sky Second Team honoree last season, will head east to the City of Brotherly Love and compete for the Philadelphia Eagles. After leading the Big Sky in tackles for loss and sacks last season, Moe plans to finish his American Studies degree this quarter.

Meanwhile, defensive backs Isiah Olave and Vincent White both received invites to participate in the rookie mini-camps, after being notified late last week. Olave, who was second on the team in interceptions and pass break-up’s last season, will head to South Florida to try out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. White, the Big Sky leader with 21 pass break-ups last season, will get a shot to play for the Denver Broncos. Both players will try to earn spots on the 90-man rosters this upcoming weekend, in hopes of getting invited back for further offseason workouts and training camps in mid-July.

Doss’ noticeable absence from the NFL draft was a head-scratcher for many fans and draft “experts,” who were expecting a mid-to-late-round selection. As time continued to pass on Friday evening and Saturday morning of draft weekend, it became apparent that Doss, who was watching on television with his friends and family in Alameda, was not going to hear his name called on the big stage in Nashville, Tenn., where the main event was hosted. Evidently, his pectoral injury at the NFL Combine in March proved to be a concern for NFL front offices, and his once-soaring draft stock took a sizable blow as a result.

Nevertheless, he was quickly snatched up by the Oakland Raiders just a couple hours after the conclusion of the draft on Saturday afternoon. Reportedly, there was a grand total of 18 NFL teams lining up to sign the 2017 Walter Payton Award Finalist, but Doss chose to stay close to home and sign with the team that coached him during the Reese’s Senior Bowl in January. During that week of practice with many of the top college football players in the nation, Doss was able to forge a relationship with Oakland Head Coach Jon Gruden, who he had grown up watching and adoring as a kid in the Bay Area.

“We were definitely surprised he wasn’t drafted,” Carmen Wallace, Doss’ agent at Athletes First told The Athletic last week. “But he has a tremendous opportunity [in Oakland]. Plus he has a great rapport with the rest of the staff and felt he had a head start on the offense.”

Doss will have his work cut out for him trying to earn a spot in a wide receiver corps that already includes high-profile free agent signees Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, among other talented players in the position. However, Gruden has all the confidence in the world that Doss will be able to rise above the competition and secure a spot on the 53-man roster.

A Sports Illustrated film focusing on Doss and his preparation for the NFL draft, “Next Level,” was recently released, giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at his experiences at the Senior Bowl, Combine, Pro Day and draft night. The film shows footage of Gruden speaking to Doss shortly after the draft and reiterating his trust and belief in the player’s talent and ability. This was surely a crucial selling point in Doss’ decision to sign with the Raiders.

Given all the obstacles Doss has overcome already, outperforming his teammates and ultimately earning a spot on the Raiders roster is well within his reach. It will take an incredible amount of hard work and determination over the next four months, but Doss has shown time and time again just how gifted he is on the football field.

Overall, all four of these former Aggies played a pivotal role in leading UC Davis to one of the greatest and most memorable seasons in the program’s 100-year history. They formed a large part of the core that dominated opponents throughout the fall, en route to a 9-2 regular season, a first round bye and first Division-I playoff victory in school history.

Each of these young men has rightfully earned their chance to prove himself at the next level. Whatever happens is ultimately up to how well they perform under a small, extremely scrutinized sample size of time on the practice field. If each player is lucky enough to make it past training camp and into preseason football in August, they will have a legitimate shot at living out their childhood dreams of making it to the National Football League.

Written by: Brendan Ogburn — sports@theaggie.org