| March 20, 2018

Column: A second chance

January 23, 2017

The ultimate dream of any college football player is to suit up Sunday afternoon and take the field in front of a boisterous National Football League crowd.

Unfortunately, only 256 college players are taken in the NFL Draft each spring, leaving thousands of former athletes without a professional career. With 128 Football Bowl Subdivision programs scattered across the country, it is difficult for players at smaller universities to gain the same exposure as those who attend powerhouse institutions like Alabama, Clemson or Ohio State.

However, there may now be an alternative option for Idaho standouts who do not hear their name called on draft day.

This is where the Spring League enters the picture. Approximately 160 players will travel to the Greenbier Resort in West Virginia this April to take part in the league’s inaugural six-game season.

The league was founded by veteran NFL scout John Peterson to provide football fans with offseason games while also giving free agents a platform to display their talent on the gridiron.

According to the organization’s website, the Spring League will consist of practices, film study and classroom instruction from coaches with previous experience in the NFL.

Invitations have already been extended to former college legends Vince Young, Johnny Manziel and Jalen Saunders. The league also reached out to Ray Rice to offer the former ex-Ravens running back with a potential comeback opportunity.

Although the Spring League is not officially associated with the NFL, league officials have previously expressed an interest in developing a professional working relationship. In addition, multiple NFL teams have already planned to send scouts to watch Spring League workouts and practices.

Several organizations have already tried and failed to promote spring football, including Major League Football and the Professional Spring Football League. However, the Spring League differs from its predecessors in that it has already established a national television deal and offered a per diem for participating athletes.

While some might write off the league as nothing more than a publicity stunt, it provides an opportunity for former college athletes to pursue their dream of potentially reaching NFL stardom. Included among those athletes are a number of Vandal standouts who might relish a chance to continue to play the sport they love.

So if you turn on the TV this spring and you see a football broadcast, don’t change the channel — you may catch a glimpse of a former Silver and Gold legend in action.

Josh Grissom can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @GoshJrissom

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