Tradition • Character • Service

Tradition • Character • Service

Friday, April 23, 2010

CNBC Sports Biz: The Ultimate Draft Sleeper

The Ultimate Draft Sleeper: Jared Veldheer

Published: Friday, 23 Apr 2010 | 12:58 PM ET

By: Darren Rovell
CNBC Sports Business Reporter

Sports agent Rick Smith of Priority Sports was teaching a seminar last year, when a guy approached him and asked him if he would be interested in taking a look at his brother—a Division II football player.

Jared Veldheer
Getty Images
Offensive lineman Jared Veldheer of Hillsdale runs the 40 yard dash during the NFL Scouting Combine on February 27, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

No one could fault Smith, who has been in the business for 23 years, for saying what came out of his mouth next. “If he can play, the league will find him,” Smith told the guy.

Ninety nine out of 100 times the conversation would have ended there. But it didn’t because the guy’s brother just happened to be Jared Veldheer.

And when Smith viewed the tape of Veldheer, along with fellow agent Mike McCartney, they realized that not only was this guy good, he had the potential to be picked in the top half of the draft.

On paper, Jared Veldheer had all the credentials of being an NFL player—as in a 6-foot-8, 315 pound offensive tackle. But the stigma associated with being a Division II player is always tough to overcome. After all, the last player to have been drafted from his school, Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich., was Nate Johnson, taken in the seventh round by the Steelers in 1980.

If Veldeer goes where he’s slotted to go—in the third round—he’ll be the draft’s most amazing story. Veldheer showed up at Hillsdale (enrollment of 1,300 students) looking to play on the football team, but his eye was on the books.

“I was on the pre-med track,” Veldeer said. “I wanted to go to medical school and be a surgeon.”

But a funny thing happened on the way to the operating room.

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