Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, a cancer survivor, was drafted by the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League Monday night after being passed over in last week’s NFL Draft, NFL.com reported Tuesday.
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However, Herzlich is unlikely to join the Nighthawks, saying Monday he is planning to wait out the lockout and try to make an NFL roster during training camp.
"When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was told I couldn’t play football again," Herzlich told NESN.com on Monday, before the UFL Draft was held via Twitter. "Not getting drafted was frustrating. It’s like they’re saying I can’t play football again, but I’m going to work out, and there’s free agency. I’m just going to work hard, get into a [NFL] camp, go from there and prove it to everyone that I belong in the NFL.
"In the past, free agency would have already started, and I’d probably be on a team right now. We’ll wait to see how that goes."
Undrafted free agents have been left in limbo due to the lockout, since NFL teams are not allowed to sign players. Usually there is a signing frenzy after the draft as teams scramble to acquire players who were not selected in the seven-round draft.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Herzlich, who missed a season in college while undergoing treatment for bone cancer, was picked by Omaha with the second-to-last pick in the 10-round draft.
The UFL is trying to become a viable alternative for football-hungry fans during the lockout, and provide players like Herzlich with an opportunity to play their way to the NFL.
"I think rather than consider us an option, we want players to see it as a strategy," UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue told NFL.com Tuesday.
"That is the goal. The undrafted free agents, the aging vets who want to play two more years, the transitioning injured player, we want to establish ourselves as the location for them."
Herzlich became the feel-good story of college football in 2010, as he made 65 tackles and 50 solo stops in 13 games for Boston College.
Omaha head coach Joe Moglia said Herzlich would be an asset for the Nighthawks.
"Mark is a special person and, we feel, a special football player. We would like to offer Mark [the] opportunity to showcase his talents. He fits really well into what Coach Olivadotti plans to do on defense, and we will do everything we can to get him to come to Omaha," he told the UFL website.