Undrafted Big 12ers find place to play


The NFL labor dispute means undrafted college players were left without a job and no immediate football future. Teams aren't allowed to make transactions, so any free agents will remain so until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached and the lockout officially lifted.

But if you were unaware, the NFL isn't the only pro league in town any more. The United Football League is gearing up for its third season this fall, and had its annual draft on Monday night. The league is made up of five teams and mostly former NFL players. Among the most recognizable names to suit up in the league: Jeff Garcia, Maurice Clarett and Daunte Culpepper.

Because NFL teams weren't able to scoop up the remaining free agents, the talent pool was a bit deeper than usual. We took a look at some of the Big 12's NFL draft snubs on Monday, and a few of them had their names called by UFL teams.

  • No. 1: Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M (Hartford Colonials)

  • No. 8: Ugo Chinasa, DE, Oklahoma State (Sacramento Mountain Lions)

  • No. 16: Ricky Henry, OL, Nebraska (Hartford)

  • No. 20: Brad Thorson, OL, Kansas (Hartford)

  • No. 21: Clint Ingram, LB, Oklahoma (Virginia Destroyers)

  • No. 23: Mike Smith, OT, Nebraska (Omaha Nighthawks)

  • No. 28: D.J. Jones, OL, Nebraska (Omaha)

  • No. 32: Greg Smith, TE, Texas (Hartford)

  • No. 37: Colby Whitlock, DT, Texas Tech (Hartford)

Great to see Johnson get a shot at the next level. He'll get a chance to prove his shoulder is back to full strength in the UFL and if he can do that, a ticket to the NFL might await. Traditionally, drafted players have a decision to make: Wait on the NFL or bank on the UFL. With no NFL, and the circumstances looking like it'll remain that way for awhile, that's not the case this year. Especially for Johnson, who sounds pretty reared up to go via Twitter.

Hartford,Connecticut it is... excited & blessed for the opportunity, thanx & gig em !! #makedreamsreality

Johnson will play for former NFL coach Jerry Glanville in Hartford.

That's a pretty good haul for Nebraska's offensive line, especially the pair of players headed to nearby Omaha to block for Clarett.

Chinasa is another player, like Johnson, who could parlay this into an NFL gig, but the athletic pass rusher is headed to Sacramento for now. He made one of the most athletic plays of the entire season in the Big 12, and I'd like to see him get a shot at the next level.

Texas Tech's Whitlock, coincidentally, ended up in Hartford, where he'll reunite with his old defensive coordinator. James Willis coached the Red Raiders last year, but after leaving the program, ended up coaching linebackers for the Colonials.

Ingram, a former Sooners linebacker, was actually drafted in the third round of the 2006 draft, but after landing in New Orleans with the Saints last season, was released in October.

A few other notable names to get drafted last night?

Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, who famously returned to the field this year after receiving cancer treatment and missing the 2009 season, was drafted in the 10th round by Omaha.

Controversial Ole Miss quarterback and former Oregon Duck Jeremiah Masoli went 38th overall to Omaha.