I had a chance to talk to former Ram Jamie Skeen last week. He’s playing professionally in Israel, and it’s been a difficult year over there for Skeen, one of the heroes of VCU’s Final Four run. You can read more about that by picking up a game program at the Longwood or Fairleigh Dickinson games later this month.
But I saved one tidbit for the blog because I was short on space and it didn’t necessarily fit with the tone of the program piece. At some point in our conversation, he told me he planned on trying out for the NFL this summer. I chuckled at first, not sure if he was being facetious. I mean, Jamie can be pretty funny when he wants, and I already knew he was a huge Carolina Panthers fan. But Skeen insisted he was 100 percent serious.
After a minute or so, I thought, well, why not?
Skeen measured 6-foot-8 (in shoes) and 242 pounds at the NBA Draft combine last year, which means he’s got the size of an NFL tight end. Coupled with his athleticism and soft hands, he has many of the necessary skills. Of course, Jamie didn’t play football in high school or college, so that’s going to be a big problem.
However, this situation is not unprecedented. Antonio Gates played basketball, not football at Kent State, but became an All-Pro tight end for the San Diego Chargers. Earlier this year, Les Brown, an accountant who played Division III basketball, earned a contract as a tight end with the Miami Dolphins, but was cut in training camp. Tony Gonzalez, who will be in the Hall of Fame the minute he’s eligible, was a football and basketball star at California.
VCU fans will no doubt remember when former Ram Jesse Pellot-Rosa was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New York Jets in 2007. Pellot-Rosa, hampered by a hand injury for much of training camp, played in one preseason game before he was cut by the team. Before choosing basketball, Pellot-Rosa was a star wide receiver in high school.
Whatever his chances, Skeen believes he has the connections to get himself a tryout this summer. He says he’s eying Carolina and the Atlanta Falcons. We will be watching closely.