Okeafor makes NFL transition

Florida A&M football player, Robert Okeafor, is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.

Okeafor had realistic expectations of which round he would probably be drafted, especially being an offensive tackle coming from an FCS program.

He wasn’t concerned with Thursday’s opening round and like many players in his same position, he told himself he wasn’t going to watch the rest of the draft.

That did not last long. His optimistic curiosity got the better of him and he ended up watching the whole thing. But as more and more names were being called, and rounds turned into days, his optimism began to fade.

“I tried to stay calm and not worry but it was hard. It was hard watching all the names go by and have my phone not ring,” Okeafor said on him having to play the waiting game.

Tim Toone, a wide receiver from Weber St., was “Mr. Irrelevant” making him the last player to be drafted.

Unfortunately for the Rattler, the 75th Annual NFL Draft concluded Saturday with no names from FAMU being called out from behind the lectern.

Feeling let down and numb for what seemed like an eternity, but only actually for 10 minutes, the house phone rang.

Okeafor’s mother answered because he doesn’t really get any calls on that line, he thought that if a team wanted him they would have called his cell phone.

The call was for him, and one that will change his life.

“I was grinning from ear to ear. He [aTampa Bay representative] told me that they were having a rookie mini camp next week and asked me to join.”

When he told his mother the good news she took it better than he thought she would.

There was no screaming or any crying, instead were more words of encouragement to not get complacent.

“I was excited but not surprised. Big Rob is very talented and has a great work ethic. I knew he was bound for greatness,” quarterback Eddie Battle said on hearing the news of his former teammate.

“He is definitely a talent. I know he’s going to go down to Tampa and put a spotlight on FAMU athletics,” defensive tackle Padric Scott said on what Okeafor’s accomplishment means for the university.

Okeafor’s foot is in the door but he knows he still has more work to do. He leaves on Friday to start his new career as a guard for the Tampa Buccaneers in the National Football League.