Gridiron Dreams

April 24, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. - When he goes on job interviews, he doesn't have to make sure his tie matches well with his shirt.

He brings a resume, but it's not your typical documentation.

No, when senior Ataefiok Etukeren heads out for his job interviews, the prospective employers are gauging his size and speed. They're looking at how he comes out of his defensive stance and how quick he reacts to the ball.

For Etukeren, a graduating defensive end on the Georgetown football team, his job interviews are the experience of a lifetime.

They are interviews that he hopes will land him a job in the National Football League.

Since the Hoya football season ended in November, Etukeren` has continued to work out like many of his friends, but his workouts have been specifically geared by Georgetown Strength & Conditioning Coach Augie Maurelli to help enhance his chances of being selected in the NFL Draft - which is being held on Saturday, April 24 and Sunday, April 25 - or at least getting invited as a free agent.

He is not the first Hoya football player to go down this road. Just last year, former Georgetown defensive end Alex Buzbee went through the same steps. Buzbee was invited to a camp run by the Washington Redskins and he impressed them enough to be signed to a free agent contract.

Now, it is Etukeren's turn.

"I think he's the prototype. He's got the size, he's got the speed, he's got the athletic ability to either rush the passer or play in space as a drop linebacker," Georgetown head coach Kevin Kelly said. "I think they see all those qualities in him that would make him a good outside linebacker in the NFL."

Etukeren showed enough of those skills as he ran through offensive lines in the Patriot League during the last four years. He earned Second Team All-Patriot League honors as a senior. A three-year starter, Etukeren amassed 4.5 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss and finished fourth on the team with 61 tackles as a senior.

 

 

That drew the attention of scouts from the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game, which matched up some of the best players in the country to play against athletes from the Longhorn State.

"The first day going down there, obviously you're going to be a little nervous," Etukeren said. "Me, coming from a small Division 1-AA school with not one of the best records in our conference or league, and going to play these D1-A guys, it was a bit imposing."

But Etukeren held his own and has since continued to work out and train in front of scouts from NFL teams with the hope of catching some eyes.

Listed at 6-3 and 245 pounds, Etukeren has gone through "pro days," where he works out in front of numerous teams. In March, he flew to his home state and competed in a pro day at Arizona State, nearby his home in Phoenix. Other such workouts have been held in the Washington, D.C. area.

He's hoping to hear his name called on draft day, but he's not expecting it. Like Buzbee before him, he hopes to just get a call to get invited.

"I've spoken to Alex about the process,' Etukeren said. "I know what he went through and how hard he worked to make it, so my hope is that I can show scouts that I can compete at the next level.

"I think if I get into a camp, I'm going to work very hard - work my butt off pretty much - to stay in the camp and to make the team as an undrafted free agent, practice squad, or active roster. I think if I'm in the camp I'm going to stay there."

If he doesn't, Etukeren said that he isn't too worried. A Patriot League Academic Honor Roll selection and an ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District selection who carries a 3.33 grade-point average in operations management, with minors in marketing and theology, he is on target to graduate in May.

"If nothing works out with football, I know I have a tremendous degree in my back pocket," Etukeren said. "I don't want to give up the dream of playing. I'm not ready to put that suit and tie on just yet."

By Mike "Mex" Carey
Sports Information Director

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