Citizen Staff Writer
Football could be in Fendi Onobun’s future.
Over the weekend, the former Arizona basketball player worked out for the New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills. He was joined by former Wildcat football players B.J. Dennard and Marquis Hundley.
“It is a crash course,” Onobun said, although he worked on getting ready for the workout. “Now I’m just learning about all the terminology, trying to make things happen.”
Last month, in a conversation with the Citizen at the NCAA Sweet 16 in Indianapolis, Onobun wondered out loud if there were any Indianapolis Colts scouts in the building.
“It would be a challenge,” he said. “It’s worth giving it a shot if the opportunity is there.”
The reserve forward never played football, but he has the seemingly perfect build for it. He’s 6 feet 6 inches tall, 250 pounds.
That caught the attention of NFL scouts over the weekend.
“It went really well,” Onobun said.
He said he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds. He had a vertical leap of 37 1/2 inches and his broad jump was 10 feet, 7 inches.
“As far as feedback, I heard I ran really good for a guy my size,” he said. “Most tight ends were in the 4.6, 4.7 range.”
At last month’s NFL combine, the best time for a tight end was 4.5 by South Carolina’s Jared Cook, who also had the best broad jump at 10-3. Onobun’s vertical jump would have been second to Cook’s 41 inches.
“It’s cool,” Onobun said of his numbers. “I’m an athlete. I know that. Running and jumping and doing that is not that hard. I did some training with people after the season and during the season, nothing strenuous.
“But it’s a matter of (people asking): Can he take a hit; can he learn the game quick enough?”
Onobun, who just finished his career with the basketball team, said football may be the way to go because “obviously I’m not going to get drafted or I don’t think I will, considering I’ve never played a down. Right now, it’s wait and see.”
Onobun, 22, said former Duke basketball player Greg Paulus has looked into the NFL, reportedly working out in Michigan.
Former Cleveland State player J’Nathan Bullock also expressed interest in the NFL, and Pitt star DeJuan Blair regards the NFL as a potential fallback option if he doesn’t make it big in the NBA, the Sporting News reported.
Onobun said he went to an annual high school football all-star game where his best friend, Martellus Bennett – a Dallas Cowboy – and Paulus played in the game.
“(Paulus) played football and he was good,” Onobun said.
Onobun said what makes all this exciting is, “I’ve never done this before and a lot of people have been in my ear to try it out.”
Onobun, who has not signed with an agent, said he hopes to land in an NFL minicamp.
“My heart is basketball,” he said, “but it’s not like I have NBA scouts calling me. If someone (in football) wants to take a look, what can it hurt? I’ll give it a shot and see what happens.”
‘It would be a challenge. It’s worth giving it a shot if the opportunity is there.’
on his chances in the NFL
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HOOPS TO GRIDIRON
Some notable NFLers who played basketball, not football, in college:
Player, pos. NFL team College
Antonio Gates, TE Chargers Kent State
Marcus Pollard, TE Falcons Bradley
Sam Clancy, DE-DT Colts Pittsburgh
Wesley Duke, TE Broncos Mercer
Pete Gent, TE Cowboys Michigan St.
Cornell Green, DB Cowboys Utah St.
Ken Johnson, DE-DT Bengals Indiana
Wayne Moore,OT Dolphins Lamar
Preston Pearson, RB-DB Cowboys Illinois
Lonnie Wright, DB Broncos Colorado St.