BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
As the FAU Football program develops with two bowl victories over Memphis and Central Michigan giving the Owls a 2-0 record in the post-season, there is one area which the school hasn't broken through.
The 2009 NFL Draft on April 25-26 had the potential to possibly see an Owl get selected but once again the school was shutout at the podium. Prior to the draft, ESPN aired a feature on FAU linebacker Frantz Joseph. It mentioned that Joseph accepted a scholarship to Boston College but was forced to drop out and he returned to South Florida to help out his family financially.
After becoming FAU's all-time single season and career tackles leader, it appeared as though Joseph would be the Owls best chance at getting drafted especially after having his own pro day in front of 19 scouts and 16 teams on February 25.
But this didn't happen. The most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL signed Joseph to a two-year $700,000 free agent contract a couple hours after the draft.
Over the years, the Oakland Raiders have gained a reputation for taking other players whom other teams have kicked to the curb and found a way to win with them. The best example was former Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett, who was the top selection in the 1971 NFL Draft by New England and he played for the Patriots from 1971-75. Plunkett played for the San Francisco 49'ers from 1976-77 before joining the Raiders in 1978-86 where he would lead this franchise to a pair of Super Bowl titles when the team was located in Oakland and Los Angeles.
In 1980, Plunkett was named the MVP in the Raiders 27-10 Win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV. In 1983, Plunkett was the Raiders back-up signal caller but an injury to Marc Wilson thrust him back into a starting role and he proceeded to lead the Raiders to a 38-9 waxing over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII.
But Plunkett is just one of many examples about how the Raiders and Owner Al Davis find away to give players and coaches opportunities to revitalize or start their careers.
If the NFL Draft would have been longer than seven rounds, then Joseph's name would have been called. What's interesting about the Raiders 2009 draft class is that Oakland was ripped in the media for some of it's early selections.
Top pick wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was the seventh overall pick out of Maryland. He was projected by draft experts as a late first round pick. Oakland's second round choice was safety Michael Mitchell out of Ohio University, the 47th pick overall. He was projected as a second day selection.
Oakland finished the 2008 season with a 5-11 record. In 2007, the Raiders were 4-12 while in 2006 they finished 2-14. The 2005 season saw Oakland compile a 4-12 mark, in 2004, the Raiders were 5-11 and in 2003 they were 4-12. The last winning season for the Silver and Black was in 2002 when they finished 11-5 and lost to the Tampa Bay Bucs in the Super Bowl 48-21 on Jan 27, 2003.
Can Joseph help the Raiders out? Judging by the Raiders poor results since their last Super Bowl, he's definitely in the right place with a team that desperately needs him.
During the 2007 New Orleans Bowl, Joseph recorded 10 tackles including six solo and two tackles for a loss of five yards. In 2008, Joseph was named to the All-Sun Belt Team after recording a school-record 154 tackles. In 2007, Joseph had 131 tackles in 13 games and in 2006, Joseph amassed 61 in 11 games.
The scouts who saw Joseph were aware that Joseph returned an interception for 26 yards and a fumble for 32 yards in an All-Star Game with the Nation versus Texas to set up scores giving the National Team a 27-24 win over Texas on Jan 31 in El Paso before 37,054 at the Sun Bowl.
While scouting departments are expected to get the higher selections correct, the hidden gems are found on the second day of the draft as well as un-drafted free agents. These are the players that have the most motivation to prove their doubters wrong. Now Joseph is in the right place to do this.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at Scottsports33@aol.com
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