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NFL dreams come true for 2 hometown stars

Vanderlin signs with Packers; Nowak signs with Jaguars

Apr. 28, 2012
 

Packers sign free agents

Hereís a running list of other undrafted rookie free agents the Packers have agreed to deals with, compiled from a variety of sources.

• Drew Vanderlin (6-3, 280), DE, Michigan Tech
• Tommie Draheim (6-4, 295), C-T, San Diego State
• Eric Lair (6-2, 238), TE, Minnesota
• Don Barclay (6-4, 305), T, West Virginia
• Marc Tyler (5-10 5/8, 219), RB, USC
• Dezmon Moses (6-3, 248), OLB, Tulane
• Darius Reynolds (6-3, 190), WR, Iowa State
• Sean Richardson (6-2 1/2, 216), S, Vanderbilt
• Jaymes Brooks (6-2, 310), G, Virginia Tech
• Jaymar Latchison (6-3, 265), OLB, New Mexico
• Dale Moss (6-4, 197), WR, South Dakota State
• Duane Bennett (5-9, 213), RB, Minnesota
• Cameron Ford (6-3, 252), TE, Wake Forest
• Marcus Rivers (6-2, 211), WR, Buffalo

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Everyone at Drew Vanderlin's house sat in almost complete silence in the moments after the end of the NFL draft on Saturday evening.

With a crowd of friends and family surrounding him, the former Green Bay Southwest High School and Michigan Tech star was at the center of it all as he stared endlessly at the phone, anxiously anticipating a shot at the NFL.

Then, roughly an hour after the draft concluded, Vanderlin recognized an incoming call from the Green Bay Packers. He answered instantly. It was Packers director of college scouting John Dorsey, offering Vanderlin his shot at a childhood dream.

The 6-foot-4, 280-pound defensive end agreed to join the Packers as an undrafted free agent. It came just a few weeks after Vanderlin worked out for his hometown team. Heíll report with the rest of the Packers' draft picks, undrafted free agents and invitees in two weeks for rookie orientation.

A 2006 Southwest graduate, Vanderlin redshirted his freshman year at Michigan Tech and received a medical redshirt his junior year after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during the preseason.

During his six-year career with the Huskies, Vanderlin recorded 64 tackles with 20 sacks and 36 tackles for loss. Vanderlin said he received some interest from other teams but immediately chose the Packers when he got the call.

ďThis whole day was kind of nerve-wracking,Ē Vanderlin said. ďMy parents were crying, I was crying. It was just a happy time, but at the same time, I told Mr. Dorsey that Iím coming in there to work. Iím going to take it serious, do the best I can and itís another step hopefully in the right direction.Ē

Also Saturday, former De Pere star Drew Nowak signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent.

The 6-4, 295-pound Western Michigan defensive lineman was the Mid-American Conference defensive player of the year last season after registering 91 tackles with 20Ĺ tackles for loss and 8Ĺ sacks.

Nowak worked out for the Packers with Vanderlin a couple weeks ago but didnít hear from them on Saturday. He received interest from the Atlanta Falcons and had an offer from the New York Jets, but settled on the Jaguars after reviewing their depth chart.

Nowak, who talked with Jacksonville earlier this week, spent the first two days of the draft at his house before following the draft closely at the Green Bay office of his agent, Joe Flanagan, on Saturday.

While it made for a long week, the result made it all the more gratifying for Nowak.

ďI didnít sleep too much this week, to be honest with you,Ē Nowak said. ďI was up today at 5 a.m. and didnít sleep much through the night the rest of the week. I watched every single pick throughout the entire draft. I watched everything extensively and marked it all down, and Jacksonville didnít do anything that would make me not pick them and Iím just really excited Iím going to get this opportunity.Ē

-- whodkiew@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @WesHod

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports