By David Fong
The last thing Kris Dielman needed was extra motivation to play football.
But that’s exactly what Dielman — one of the toughest blood-and-guts players in Troy football history — got in the spring of 2003. Dielman, who would graduate from Troy and go on to earn All-Big Ten honors at Indiana University, sat and watched the 2003 NFL Draft, never hearing his name called.
Undaunted, he signed a rookie free agent contact with the San Diego Chargers. He would switch from defensive tackle to offensive guard — a position he had never played before in his life — and would go to play nine years in the NFL, making the Pro Bowl four times and earning All-Pro honors twice.
Not getting drafted would serve as a powerful motivating force for Dielman, one he would carry with him throughout his career.
“I just wanted a chance to show them what I could do,” Dielman said in a previous interview with the Troy Daily News. “I went into my first camp knowing I had to prove something to everybody. I didn’t care that I didn’t get drafted. I knew I was good enough to play. If I had to go in and fight someone to do that, I didn’t care. To me, the NFL was about taking care of my family. I didn’t care if I was drafted or not — I was going to do whatever it took to do that.”
Thursday, a series of future millionaires wearing suits that set them back several thousand dollars will be trotted across a stage at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, where they will be hailed as the saviors of National Football League franchises. Millions will watch the three-day spectacle on television, as the NFL Draft has become the second-biggest event on the NFL calendar, trailing only the Super Bowl in viewership and over-the-top pageantry.
For some future NFL players, it will be sound and fury signifying nothing, as the greatest moments of their careers will happen this weekend. To say the least, the NFL Draft is an inexact science. Some players who are picked near the top of the draft flame out, often in spectacular fashion (see: Leaf, Ryan). Some who are drafted in lower rounds rise to the top, often in equally spectacular fashion (see: Brady, Tom).
Some top draft picks live up to their billing. Some undrafted players end up like Dielman, playing in the Pro Bowl. It’s part of the intrigue of the draft.
On the local level, Dielman is one of three examples of players who proved just what a roll of the dice the draft can be. The three former Miami County high school football players who had the longest careers all went undrafted.
Covington High School graduate Tim Vogler played for Woody Hayes at Ohio State, but went undrafted in 1979. He would sign with the Buffalo Bills and would spend 10 years with the team along the offensive line, becoming a full-time starter in 1985, before a knee injury ended his career.
Milton-Union graduate Carl Brumbaugh was an undrafted back who played for both Ohio State and the University of Florida before playing for nine years in the NFL from 1930-39. During his career, he won a pair of NFL Championships with the Chicago Bears in 1932 and 1933 (the Super Bowl wouldn’t come along until 1967). It does bear mentioning that Brumbaugh was not drafted in large part because the NFL would not hold his first draft until 1936, six years after Brumbaugh’s career already had begun.
Miami County does have a history of players getting drafted, however. A total of 12 Miami County graduates have been drafted by NFL teams — seven from Troy, four from Piqua and one from Milton-Union.
No county graduates are expected to be drafted this weekend, which would tie the longest draft drought in county history at 11 years. The last local NFL Draft pick was Piqua graduate Quinn Pitcock, who was taken by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round of the 2007 draft.
Next year, Miami County will look to buck that trend as a small handful of players with local ties — Milton-Union graduate Wes Martin (an offensive lineman at Indiana), Troy graduate Alex Dalton (an offensive lineman at Oklahoma) and Covington graduate A.J. Ouellette (a running back at Ohio University) — all will be eligible for the draft.
If no local players are drafted next year, it will be the longest stretch Miami County has gone with a player getting drafted since Troy graduate Bob Ferguson became the first county player drafted in 1962.
Here’s a look, a chronological order, at the dozen county football players who have been drafted:
Bob Ferguson (Troy High School, 1962 Draft)
Ferguson, a two-time All-American fullback at Ohio State, remains the highest draft pick of any Miami County player. He was actually drafted twice in 1962, taken in the first round (fifth overall) of the NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the first round (eighth overall) of the AFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers before the two leagues merged.
Ferguson would play just two years in the NFL before injuries cut short his pro career.
Other notable players drafted that year: Roman Gabriel (second overall), Merlin Olsen (third overall) and Lance Alworth (eighth overall).
Tom Myers (Troy High School, 1965 Draft)
Myers, an All-American quarterback at Northwestern University, was taken in the fourth round (46th overall) of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions and the 12th round (89th overall) of the AFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.
Myers would play two years with the Lions.
Other notable players drafted that year: Dick Butkus (third overall), Gale Sayers (fourth overall) and Joe Namath (12th overall).
Tom Vaughn (Troy High School, 1965 Draft)
Vaughn — who was Myers’ favorite receiver at Troy — both were taken by the same teams in the 1965 NFL and AFL drafts. The Lions selected Vaughn in the fifth round (57th overall), while the Broncos took him in the 11th round (81st overall).
Vaughn would play seven years in Detroit as a defensive back and kick returner.
Charlie Green (Milton-Union High School, 1965 Draft)
Green, who is in the Wittenberg University Hall of Fame, was taken by the Boston Patriots in the 13th round (103rd overall) of the AFL Draft. Green would end up playing quarterback for one season with the Oakland Raiders.
Craig Clemons (Piqua High School, 1972 Draft)
Following his career at the University of Iowa, Clemons was drafted in the first round (12th overall) of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.
Clemons played defensive back in the NFL for six years, all with the Bears.
Other notable players drafted that year: Bobby Moore (fourth overall) , Riley Odoms (fifth overall) and Franco Harris (13th overall).
Dave Gallagher (Piqua High School, 1974 Draft)
Following his playing days at Piqua, Gallagher would go on to play defensive tackle at the University of Michigan.
The Chicago Bears selected Gallagher in the first round (20th overall) of the 1974 NFL Draft. He played in the NFL for five years, one year with the Bears and two years each with the New York Giants and Detroit Lions.
Other notable players drafted that year: Lynn Swann (21st overall), Jack Lambert (second round) and John Stallworth (fourth round).
Gordon Bell (Troy High School, 1976 Draft)
Bell — who would go on to become a star running back at the University of Michigan after graduating from Troy — was selected by the New York Giants in the fourth round (104th overall) of the 1976 draft.
Bell would play three years in the NFL — two with the Giants and one with the Saint Louis Cardinals.
Other notable players drafted that year: Lee Roy Selmon (first overall), Jackie Slater (third round) and Steve Largent (fourth round).
Randy Walker (Troy High School, 1976 Draft)
Walker, a defensive back and running back at Troy, would go on to play college football at Miami University. He was drafted in the 13th round (371st overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals. Walker did play in any regular season games for the Bengals, but would remain in football as he went on to be a hall of fame college coach at Miami University and Northwestern University.
Elmo Boyd (Troy High School, 1977 Draft)
Boyd did not play high school football until his senior year, but that didn’t stop the speedy receiver from earning a chance to play college football at Eastern Kentucky University. He was taken in the third round (65th overall) of the 1977 draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
Boyd played one year in the NFL with both the 49ers and Green Bay Packers.
Other notable players drafted that year: Tony Dorsett (second overall), Eddie Edwards (third overall) and Pete Johnson (second round).
Jon Dumbauld (Troy High School, 1986 Draft)
Following a standout career as a defensive lineman at the University of Kentucky, the New Orleans Saints drafted Dumbauld in the 10th round (253rd overall) of the 1986 NFL Draft.
Dumbauld played three years in the NFL with the Saints and Philadelphia Eagles.
Other notable players drafted that year: Bo Jackson (first overall), Keith Byers (10th overall) and Charles Haley (fourth round).
Matt Finkes (Piqua High School, 1997 Draft)
Finkes would earn All-American honors as a defensive end at Ohio State following his playing days at Piqua.
He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the sixth round (189th overall) of the 1997 draft, but played his lone season in the NFL with the New York Jets.
Other notable players drafted that year: Orlando Pace (first overall), Walter Jones (sixth overall) and Tony Gonzalez (13th overall).
Quinn Pitcock (Piqua High School, 2007 Draft)
Pitcock, an All-American defensive tackle at Ohio State, was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round (98th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft.
Pitcock played one season for the Colts.
Other notable players drafted that year: Calvin Johnson (second overall), Joe Thomas (third overall) and Adrian Peterson (seventh overall).
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong