Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

VCU Hoops Star Signs with New York Jets?!

From the AP via the Sporting News:

Jets Sign 5, Including Former VCU Hoops Star

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The New York Jets signed five free agents Tuesday, including former Virginia Commonwealth basketball star Jesse Pellot-Rosa.

The Jets also signed defensive back James Ihedigbo, cornerback Rayshaun Kizer, linebacker Jared Newberry and wide receiver Renard Stevens. All five players received tryouts at rookie minicamp last weekend.

Pellot-Rosa, who tried out at wide receiver, helped lead the Rams to a Colonial Athletic Association title and a first-round upset of Duke in the NCAA tournament in March. He averaged 13.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and shot over 42 percent from 3-point range last season.

Pellot-Rosa last played organized football in high school. He was recruited by Tennessee, Alabama and Virginia to play football, but chose to play basketball at VCU, which doesn't have a football team.

"I love to play football just like I love to play basketball," Pellot-Rosa said during minicamp. "They are equal to me. I love to play both, and it's been like that since I was a kid -- you go out on the playground and love to play. It didn't really matter whether it was basketball or football. I would play either one."

The Jets also released defensive back Caleb Hendrix, defensive end Matt King, wide receiver Dustin Osborn and LB Mark Zalewski. All four had been signed to free agent contracts before minicamp.

Here's an excerpt from the Jets' website, by Eric Allen:

Burroughs, Pellot-Rosa Pressed Into Duty

...In an adjoining room, Jesse Pellot-Rosa visited his makeshift locker. Pellot-Rosa was a key performer on the Virginia Commonwealth basketball team this season, averaging 13.3 points and 4.5 rebounds an outing. The 6’4”, 195-pounder, who hadn't played organized football since high school, lined up at wide receiver this weekend.

“Camp has been kind of good. It is just a lot of different things and a lot of different adjustments,” he said. “You see how big this playbook is. I just have to get used to the whole NFL game, the different coverages and getting off the line. I have a lot of work to do, man.”

The VCU guard, who totaled 14 points, five rebounds and three assists in the first-round upset of Duke in the NCAA Tournament, made progress on Day Two.

“I am still trying to learn. Coach is really strict on formations and where you line up,” he said. “I think I am getting a little bit better. I know the first day I was lined up all over the place. Today I felt like I was lining up in the right spots so I wasn’t all over the place.”

After the draft, Pellot-Rosa was told he would have the chance to try out for the Jets. He worked out twice prior to this weekend’s activities and still hasn’t donned any heavy football equipment other than a helmet.

“I went up to the University of Richmond for like a day and worked out there,” he said. “I ran some routes and that was basically it. I think I worked out twice — once when a member of the Jets personnel department came down, and I ran some routes at Richmond.”

What if someone had told him during the basketball season that he would be trying out with the New York Jets in May?

“I wouldn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it when the guy called me and told me,” he said. “You have to see it to believe it. I am just glad I got this opportunity.”

When football was aired on television each fall, he used to stare at the screen and daydream of playing once again.

Virginia Commonwealth didn’t have a football team but that didn’t stop him from gaining at least temporary entry in pro football.

“I would say, ‘Man, I could be out there playing with those guys.’ The Jets gave me a shot now and I am going to keep working hard.”

And even if things don’t work out in football, Pellot-Rosa could attempt to play professional basketball. Versatility is always a good thing.

“If all else fails and I don’t make it, then I would have no choice,” he said.

'Tis the season for NFL teams to take a flier on some weird athletes. Pellot-Rosa would be a project, to say the least. But he's a heck of an athlete, and I wouldn't be too surprised to see him on the field in a couple years. For the next year or two, however, the practice squad would be a triumph for him.

I'll try to keep you posted.

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