No football players from central Ohio were among the 256 selected in the NFL draft held April 26-28, but the undrafted free-agent route presented opportunities for some from the area.
During the hours after the draft, Pickerington High School North graduate Godwin Igwebuike signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Reynoldsburg graduate Emmanuel Beal signed with the Seattle Seahawks and Upper Arlington graduate Chris Frey signed with the Carolina Panthers.
According to his profile on NFL.com, Igwebuike, a 6-foot, 205-pound safety, was projected to be taken in the third or fourth round after being a second-team all-Big Ten Conference honoree last fall at Northwestern, but he didn’t have his name called.
Beal, a 6-0, 218-pound linebacker, took an unconventional route to a pro opportunity, as he played his first two seasons at Lackawanna, a community college in Pennsylvania, before playing the past two at Oklahoma.
Last season for the Sooners, he had 95 tackles and seven tackles for loss.
“Blessed to be in this position,” Beal said on his Twitter account. “Let’s get to work.”
Frey, a 6-2, 238-pound linebacker, had 193 career tackles in 52 games for Michigan State and was named the 2017 Holiday Bowl Defensive MVP.
“My entire life, I’ve dreamed of playing in the NFL,” Frey said on his Instagram account. “I told myself drafted or undrafted, I would show up every day and work … to prove myself. I’m proud to announce I will be continuing my career (with the) Panthers.”