Emptying the notebook in regards to today's article on three local Big Ten football players - Clay graduate Jordan Kovacs, Fostoria graduate Micah Hyde and Wauseon graduate Elliott Mealer - who will join NFL teams ...
Jordan Kovacs is currently in Florida, for the first day of rookie mini-camp with the Miami Dolphins, but admitted this about a phone call he took in regards to joining the Dolphins: when Stephen Ross - a Michigan graduate, the owner of the Dolphins and the namesake of Michigan's business school - contacted him by phone, Kovacs had no idea what the phone call was about.
But Ross told him this: "He said to me, 'it's a great fit for you, and if you don't get picked by the end of the seventh round, I'm going to get you on the phone with the coaches and the defensive coordinator.' And that's how it happened."
Kovacs, who played safety at Michigan, agreed to a free-agent deal with the Dolphins immediately after the conclusion of the NFL draft on April 27, and the Dolphins' rookie mini-camp opened today. But in the hours leading up to his agreement with the Dolphins - he plans to sign a free-agent contract while in Florida - not an NFL team called his name during the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds, which drove him outside of his family's home in Curtice.
"The process was crazy," said Kovacs, who spoke with or worked out for representatives from the majority of the NFL's 32 teams from January to the week of the draft. "It was stressful. It was a roller-coaster ride in one day. There was a point where I was ready to write a handful of teams on a piece of paper, put them in a hat and draw one."
But, he added, laughing, "that might not have been the best thing to do!"
While Kovacs spent the day at home, former Fostoria standout Micah Hyde, a cornerback at Iowa, was golfing at a local course with friends when his phone rang - and a Wisconsin area code showed up on the screen.
"My buddy freaked out," said Hyde, who was drafted in the fifth round by the Packers. "It said Green Bay, Wisconsin, and when I took the call, I couldn't even hear the general manager or the coach because my friends were yelling and screaming. I hope we didn't make any other golfers mad."
Hyde said he received more than 200 text messages and that his voice mail was full. In fact, he didn't check his voice mail until Sunday morning.
Hyde has some unfinished business in Iowa. He graduates later this month, but still has a court date following a October arrest for public intoxication and interference with official acts - stemming from a bar incident in Iowa City, in which he fled the scene after allegedly being involved in a fight involving at least 15 people. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Hyde pleaded guilty to the interference charge and paid fines and court costs, and entered a not-guilty plea on the public intoxication charge.
(For what it's worth, when asked about it, Hyde has been very frank and professional in discussing the incident.)
Elliott Mealer, a Wauseon graduate who played on Michigan's offensive line, will join the New Orleans Saints' rookie mini-camp next week and likened the courtship with the Saints more to a job interview and less to the college recruiting process.
"The Saints were the only team that brought me to their facilities, and I went into this decision with my family in mind," Mealer said. "In the end, this is the team I had my heart set on."
Kovacs and Mealer are two of seven Michigan players to join teams as undrafted free agents, joining defensive end Craig Roh (Carolina), linebacker Kenny Demens (Houston), offensive lineman Patrick Omameh (San Francisco), offensive lineman Ricky Barnum (Washington) and wide receiver Roy Roundtree (Cincinnati)
"It's an exciting time in our lives," Mealer said. "For me, going to Michigan was so exciting and now, to embark on this, it's going to be a neat journey, to go to Louisiana and be on my own for the first time.
"For me and my teammates, we're all scattered across the board to different places across the country. Everyone's going to be following each other."