Former Raiders ready for shots at NFL
ASHLAND — Former Southern Oregon University football players Patrick Donahue and Aldrick Rosas took unconventional paths to getting the attention of scouts in the National Football League, but they'll get chances to prove themselves just the same in the coming weeks.
Donahue, a receiver at SOU in 2011-12, lit up the German Football League the last two years to the point that the Green Bay Packers have invited him to their rookie minicamp. Rosas, the Raiders' kicker in 2013-14, has been working his way back from surgery in February 2015 to repair a torn ACL in his (right) kicking leg. He declared as an underclassman for the 2016 NFL Draft, and when the seventh and final round concluded Saturday he got a call and a non-guaranteed rookie contract offer from the Tennessee Titans, which he happily accepted.
Donahue will appear in minicamp in Green Bay this Friday through Sunday. Rosas will be in minicamp May 13-15 in Nashville.
Listed at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, Donahue transferred to SOU from Glendale Community College prior to the 2011 season. In two years at SOU he recorded 2,100 receiving yards, and in 2012 he made 102 catches (an SOU single-season record at the time) while leading the Raiders to the national quarterfinals.
His stock went up, though, in Germany: As a member of the Lübeck Cougars, a GFL division II team, he was the league's top scorer in 2014 and earned a promotion to the GFL's top division with the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns. With the Unicorns in 2015, he broke a GFL record with eight kickoff returns for touchdowns (not including five more return TDs that were called back) and caught 75 passes for 1,353 yards and 17 scores.
Donahue was first notified of Green Bay's interest in February. The situation escalated quickly from there.
"They went from being kind of interested, to really liking me, to telling me they'd give me like a one-day tryout if I could get myself there," Donahue said. "Then they said, 'Never mind, we're going to bring you to the minicamp instead.'"
Donahue has been in St. Paul, Minn., working out at Englebert Training Systems Gym for the last three weeks. Following a day off Wednesday, he'll head to Green Bay on Thursday for orientation.
"This is just all very surreal, but it's getting realer every day," Donahue said. "It's been a long road and taken a lot of persistence, but my plan is to ride this until the wheels fall off. Green Bay is gonna realize they need a Donahue."
Rosas will leave his hometown of Orland, Calif., for Nashville on Sunday and has been told that his stay there could last for up to six weeks. He received calls from more than half of the teams in the NFL, he says, but knew the Titans were becoming serious about two weeks before the draft. He was among 96 underclassmen who were granted early eligibility and one of 30 to go undrafted, according to NFL.com.
"I knew I was a longshot to get drafted because I didn't play last year, and I didn't know if anyone was going to take a shot on me," Rosas said. "I was the only one in my house watching the last round of the draft, and as soon as it was over the Titans called to congratulate me and offer the contract. It was a really crazy moment."
During his freshman and sophomore seasons at SOU, Rosas's booming leg produced 123 touchbacks on 204 kickoffs. He set a Raider record by converting 116 consecutive point-after tries and put 25 of 32 field-goal attempts through the uprights, including six of eight from 40-49 yards.
After his surgery, he returned to full strength in late November and went on to attend a couple kicking camps in Arizona.
"The kicking coach at the camps put in a good word with some scouts and they all told me to just put some of my highlights on YouTube. From there, I guess they liked them enough to give me a chance."