Monday, April 27, 2009

Undrafted, KU’s Holt, Rivera get NFL shot

Kansas linebacker James Holt chases Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber during the fourth quarter of the Insight Bowl Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

Kansas linebacker James Holt chases Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber during the fourth quarter of the Insight Bowl Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.


Holt, Rivera sign free agent contracts

Two former KU linebackers will get the chance to make an NFL roster.

James Holt’s 40-meter dash time didn’t get tested Sunday. But his “Best Buy” time did.

After realizing that his cell phone wasn’t working — during the second day of the NFL Draft — the former Kansas University linebacker sped out to the Lawrence electronics store.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” Holt said. “I’m surprised I didn’t get a ticket.”

A few hours later, Holt put his new cell phone to good use, agreeing to a free-agent deal with the San Diego Chargers.

Holt was contacted by San Diego officials 20 minutes after the draft.

Though his agent had told him the Chargers had shown some interest, Holt hadn’t heard much from the team lately.

“When they called,” Holt said, “I was pretty ecstatic.”

San Diego is a good fit for a few reasons. Holt has two uncles that live in the area, and the city also is located in a warm-weather climate that the linebacker prefers.

The 6-foot-3, 226-pounder was told by Chargers officials that he would get his first look on special teams.

“I started like that here (at KU), and it turned out fine,” said Holt, who registered six tackles on special teams during his true freshman season with the Jayhawks in 2005.

Holt will have a quick turnaround, reporting to mini-camp on Friday. After that, he’ll finish his KU classes before returning to San Diego for offseason training.

“It was kind of a bummer not to be drafted,” Holt said, “but at the same time, I still get the opportunity to play.”

Also Sunday, former Jayhawks linebacker Mike Rivera signed a free-agent contract with the Chicago Bears, KU officials confirmed Sunday night.

Rivera, a 6-3, 255-pounder from Shawnee, was an All-Big 12 honorable mention selection last season. He also was third on the Jayhawks with 93 tackles.


Jonathan Allison 10 years, 9 months ago

Great Job fellas, now go out there and show 'em what you're made of.

I'm sure these guys will end up on a roster and see the playing field at some point this year.

Nutflush21 10 years, 9 months ago

plasticjhawk- Dont hold your breath. I wish these guys nothing but the best, however they have a difficult road ahead of them. Big 12 Defensive POY Nick Reid couldnt even make a roster.

Joe Baker 10 years, 9 months ago

It's always nice to see Jayhawks in the NFL!!


troutsee 10 years, 9 months ago

Holt has speed going for him. I think he'll make it as a linebacker. I'm not sure about Mike. The pros love speed. He's tough, smart, and big so those three attributes may offset his slowness afoot.

jhokfan 10 years, 9 months ago

Their chance of making an NFL roster is not good but at least they are being given the opportunity. It's too bad NFL Europe and the arena league folded. It would be nice if there were more venues. The CFL would be a great place to play and get some experience but I think they have some requirement regarding the percentage of roster spots being filled by non-Canadian players.

Jaminrawk 10 years, 9 months ago

Linebackers can step in undrafted and do damage. Ask guys like James Harrison and Bart Scott. James Holt is going to make this team and I expect him to be a better pro than a lot of the guys who did get drafted including that guy the Raiders took in round 2.

Jared Grillot 10 years, 8 months ago

I agree... both of these guys play very smart, and were playmakers for us. I think they can crack a roster, and maybe in a couple seasons we could see them on the field. It may not happen on a regular basis, but it does happen - undrafted guys can still get their shot.

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