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Familiar FCS names have to beat the odds
By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director

William & Mary running back Jonathan Grimes is a versatile offensive threat.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - There are always outstanding FCS players whom you hear about for several years and then they fade away after not getting their names called during the NFL draft.

Some latch onto an NFL practice squad, and there's a lot to be said with that, but that also brings a lot of anonymity they weren't accustomed to having in the past.

Those scenarios will happen again this year because only about 15-20 FCS players will be selected in the draft. That's not a lot considering the draft goes for seven rounds between April 26 and 28.

The exploits of Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick and cornerback Trumaine Johnson are well-documented and they are assured of being selected in the first half of the draft. There also are lesser-known FCS players such as North Dakota State tight end Matt Veldman and Maine strong safety Jerron McMillian who seem to have late-round prospects.

Some who go undrafted will have a free-agent opportunity to pick a team that offers an excellent situation for them, but the odds will be stacked against them.

Here are seven highly accomplished FCS players whose stock has risen since the end of their senior seasons and seemingly could be heard from again even if, and probably when, they go undrafted:

Central Arkansas quarterback Nathan Dick - UCA has had three players drafted in the last five years and put five on NFL rosters and three in the CFL during that period of time. Coach Clint Conque felt scouts were impressed with the 6- foot-3, 215-pound Dick at the Bears' recent pro day. He's big and strong and nobody can question his toughness after he overcame two concussions last season. The former transfer from the University of Arkansas finished his UCA career second in passing attempts (808) and completions (514), third in passing yards (5,943) and fourth in touchdown passes (44).

William & Mary running back Jonathan Grimes - You want tough, then you also want Grimes, a workhorse who was dominant toward the end of his senior season, finishing with school single-season records of 2,510 all-purpose yards, 1,431 rushing yards and 817 kickoff return yards while earning the All-CAA Football special teams player of the year award. The 5-10, 207-pounder doesn't wow people with any one measurable, but they add up nicely. He's a north-south runner who has a decent burst after getting through the line of scrimmage. No FCS senior ended his career with more rushing yards (4,541). He's a versatile player with both pass-catching and return ability.

Montana inside linebacker Caleb McSurdy - NFL teams showed enough interest in McSurdy to give him an invitation to the scouting combine, although he isn't expected be drafted next month. An instinctive player, he gets to the ball and brings down ball carriers consistently. At 6-1, 245 pounds, he is a bit undersized and not fast (4.97 in the 40 at the Combine) for his position. But he really came on strong over his final two seasons, totaling 243 tackles.

Montana State wide receiver Elvis Akpla - Elvis hasn't left the building, he can be found in an opponent's end zone. The 6-foot, 185-pound speedster has sub-4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash and can really catch the ball. He had a breakout senior season with 63 receptions for 1,145 yards and 11 touchdowns. A former University of Oregon player, Akpla caught at least one pass in all 35 of his games at MSU. His speed could help him double as a punt returner.

Jackson State outside linebacker Donavan Robinson - He's a little bit of a tweener at 6-1, 247 pounds, but Robinson has an impressive frame as well as developing talent. He's an athletic pass rusher whose averages of 1.4 sacks and 2.25 tackles for loss per game ranked third in the FCS last season. He projects to be a situational linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

Bethune-Cookman defensive end/outside linebacker Ryan Davis- An edge pass rusher who moves well for his 6-2, 259-pound size, Davis has drawn increasing interest as the draft nears. A defensive end as a senior, he could be a possible 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. He led the MEAC in sacks (12) and tackles for loss (21.5) while earning defensive player of the year honors in a conference that was loaded with defensive talent.

Appalachian State all-purpose Travaris Cadet - Leave it to Tim Tebow to keep the Wildcat from leaving the NFL. Cadet can be a running back or wide receiver and even line up in the Wildcat, having played some quarterback at App State as a sophomore. He's an athlete who can return kicks and he likes to get to open space. At nearly 6 feet, 210 pounds, Cadet is a hardworking, mentally strong player, which is always key for a player coming out of the FCS.

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