Florida State receiver Travis Rudolph, whose father was shot and killed just days before the NFL draft, is one of 28 early entrants who were not selected.
Ninety-five players were granted special eligibility by the NFL to enter the draft as underclassmen, including No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett of Texas A&M. Another eight players with college eligibility remaining had graduated by the declaration deadline and were eligible, including Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was taken No. 12 overall by Houston.
Wide receiver was the most popular position among the undrafted underclassmen, with some big names beyond Rudolph not being picked. KD Cannon and Ishmael Zamora from Baylor and Ricky-Seals Jones and Speedy Noil from Texas A&M all will be looking for work as undrafted free agents.
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Rudolph had a solid career at Florida State, catching 153 passes for 2,311 yards and 18 touchdowns in three seasons. He made national headlines – in a positive way – though for something he did off the field. On a visit to a Tallahassee, Florida, middle school in August, Rudolph went out of his way to eat lunch with an autistic boy named Bo Paske, who had been sitting at a table by himself.
Rudolph’s act of kindness earned him the thanks of the boys’ mother in a lengthy Facebook post, which went viral along with a video of Rudolph sitting with the son at his school.
On April 21, Rudolph’s father, 55-year-old Darryl Rudolph, was shot while working as a handyman at a night club in West Palm Beach. According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office, a gun went off in an adjacent room while it was being moved from a shelf and the bullet penetrated a wall and struck Rudolph.
Travis Rudolph watched the draft at his family’s West Palm Beach home on Saturday, with ESPN cameras in the house.
Also undrafted was Virginia Tech quarterback Jerod Evans, who declared after just one season playing for the Hokies. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Evans passed for 3,552 yards and 29 touchdowns and ran for 846 yards and 12 scores.
A list of underclassmen who were eligible to be drafted but not taken:
KD Cannon, WR, Baylor
Devin Childress, WR, North Park
Jerod Evans, QB, Virginia Tech
Jeremy Faulk, DT, Garden City CC
Tarean Folston, RB, Notre Dame
Isaiah Golden, DT, McNeese State
Jermaine Grace, LB, Miami
Derrick Griffin, WR, Texas Southern
Titus Howard, DB, Slippery Rock
Tim Kimbrough, LB, Georgia
Jerome Lane, WR, Akron
Keevan Lucas, WR, Tulsa
Damien Mama, OL, USC
Deon-Tay McManus, WR, Marshall
Speedy Noil, WR, Texas A&M
Marcus Oliver, LB, Indiana
Aaron Peak, DB, Butler County CC
Devine Redding, RB, Indiana
Travis Rudolph, WR, Florida State
(asterisk)-Artavis Scott, WR, Clemson
Ricky Seals-Jones, WR, Texas A&M
Garrett Sickels, DE, Penn State
Damore’ea Stringfellow, WR, Ole Miss
Charles Walker, DL, Oklahoma
(asterisk)-Khari Waithe-Alexander, DE, Southern Illinois
Stanley Williams, RB, Kentucky
Joe Yearby, RB, Miami
Ishmael Zamora, WR, Baylor
(asterisk)-denotes player who had graduated by the January declaration deadline.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAp