Michael Bamiro has done what John Elway, Eli Manning and countless others wish they could’ve done — albeit unintentionally.
The Stony Brook University offensive tackle, who thought he was headed into his senior season this fall and last week was named a first-team FCS All-America selection by Sports Network, has been declared ineligible by the NCAA and also ruled ineligible for the NFL’s supplemental draft because he’s not an underclassman, thus making him a free agent who can sign with any team, sources have told FOX Sports.
Which means Bamiro is, by many accounts, the first player to dodge the NFL draft.
It’s a quirky development that, sources say, began to formulate in the spring when Bamiro learned from his coaches that a waiver to give him another year of eligibility was going to be denied by the NCAA because Bamiro attended the University of Pittsburgh in 2008. Even though he didn’t play football at Pitt, the clock on his eligibility started ticking.
The 6-foot-8, 335-pound Bamiro then decided he wanted to play football, so he transferred to Stony Brook, where one of his brothers (David) was once a linebacker, while another (Solomon) played basketball. (Solomon, known as "Bam Bam," is now a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.)
Michael Bamiro sat out the 2009 season with a redshirt designation after transferring. In 2010, he stepped in as the Seawolves’ starting right tackle, a position he held for three seasons. Bamiro, a first-team All-Big South selection last season, was expecting to stay there in 2013, only to learn his college career was over and that he wouldn’t be subject to the supplemental draft.
Teams can now get a player with the skills to be drafted without having to give up a pick to do so. Bamiro will hold a workout for teams this Thursday in Medford, N.J., a source told FOX Sports.
"You can’t coach his pure size, his hands, the length of his arms," Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore told Newsday in 2011.
"He’s got his basketball brother’s athleticism. This kid is nimble on his feet. I think the world is his oyster, potentially."
Former NFL offensive lineman Billy Conaty is one of the agents representing Bamiro, who is training with former Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Tra Thomas.
"He’s huge. He has hands twice the size of mine, and I’m 6-3," Conaty said. "The biggest thing teams love about him is he can bend well. At that size, being able to bend well and redirect is huge. His ceiling is a lot higher than most people’s."
Conaty is expecting at least a dozen teams at the workout with a few more scrambling to get a scout there.
An NFC personnel director whose team will attend Bamiro’s workout told FOX Sports last week, "He’s a (good) prospect. Good size and ability. He’d probably be a fifth- or sixth-round pick, though I don’t know how much tape people have watched of him."
Therein lies the downside of Bamiro’s situation.
Being declared a free agent is seemingly advantageous because he gets to pick his team as opposed to being sent to whichever club selects him. That’s a scenario Elway and Manning basically created by forcing their way to a team other than the one that had the first overall pick. Former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth also sent out a list in advance of the 1987 supplemental draft, indicating the teams for which he wanted to play. The Seahawks weren’t on that list, and Bosworth played for them anyway.
Former Los Angeles Raiders running back Bo Jackson refused to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the team selected him first overall in 1986. Jackson was irate when a visit set up by the team cost him his NCAA eligibility, so he played baseball that season. One year later, he was entered into the NFL draft and was selected by the Raiders in the seventh round.
Elway, Manning, Bosworth, Jackson and others would’ve loved to have Bamiro’s situation as their own.
But the freedom Bamiro is enjoying is offset by the fact he is trying to find a job at a time when teams are in offseason mode. This year’s supplemental draft – which takes place Thursday – isn’t stocked with talent, so many personnel executives haven’t done their homework, especially with Bamiro, whom they didn’t even know would be available.
Some teams are also out of rookie-pool money and unable to give Bamiro a signing bonus. Another option to entice him to sign, though, would be to guarantee his base salary for this upcoming season and possibly beyond. That’s where the advantages of Bamiro’s situation begin.
Bamiro also appears to be making some history here. Though some players have entered the NFL without being drafted (the Philadelphia Eagles’ Vince Papale of "Invincible" fame and New Orleans Saints returner Michael Lewis, a former beer-truck driver, come to mind), indications are no player with a draftable grade has slipped past the draft the way Bamiro has.
Technically, Bamiro was eligible for April’s entry draft and went through undrafted. The reason he slipped past every team is because no one realized he was eligible.
Now, he’s eligible for any team – to sign, not to draft.