Ariz. hoops star makes switch to football for Rams - KMOV.com

Ariz. hoops star makes switch to football for Rams

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The player who could be the St. Louis Rams' tight end of the future played only one year of college football after abandoning his professional basketball dreams.

The 6-foot-6, 249-pound Fendi Onobun (AH-no-bun) participated in the second day of rookie minicamp Saturday at Rams Park. The sixth-round draft choice was an intriguing selection by the Rams.

He admits he has much to learn.

"I'm a raw athlete. I'm so new to this game, I'm like a piece of clay," Onobun said. "They can mold me any way they want me."

So far, so good for Onobun, coach Steve Spagnuolo said.

"For a guy who didn't play a lot of football, he's done some good things out here," Spagnuolo said. "You can see he's got some natural skills. He sure does look the part."

It's been a long, strange trip to the gridiron.

Onobun played four years of basketball at Arizona. Then he went to his hometown and played one year of football for Houston.

He could do that because the NCAA says an athlete has five years to complete four years of eligibility in any one sport. When the athlete finishes that eligibility in four years, he can use that fifth year to play another sport.

So Onobun played football, which he last played in junior high school as a seventh-grader. Onobun played in 11 of the Cougars' 14 games. He blocked two kicks on special teams. He also caught two passes for 33 yards in his lone college football season, one for a touchdown.

Then came the call on draft day.

General Manager Billy Devaney acknowledged picking Onobun could been seen as a stretch.

"We're taking a flier, guys," Devaney said after St. Louis made Onobun the 170th overall pick. "We know that. It's a project in its truest sense."

Spagnuolo acknowledged a learning curve for Onobun. But he said he didn't know how to measure it.

"Everybody that's been in that kind of situation reacts a little bit differently," Spagnuolo said. "Some of them are well-documented. (Tony) Gonzalez and Antonio Gates, some of those guys catch on quick. We'll find out with him."

For his part, Onobun wants to soak up as much as he can.

"The biggest adjustment is the tempo," Onobun said. "I'm spending a lot of time studying, extra hours with coach (Frank) Leonard and by my own. I don't think I'm as far off as most people think."

He sees no reason why he can't succeed in pro football.

"I dreamed of the NBA, now it's the NFL," Onobun said. "I'm psyched to be here. I think I've found something I can be really good at."

In other camp news Saturday, offensive tackle Rodger Saffold, a second-round pick, sprained his right shoulder during the morning workout but went back in after sitting out for some drills. Wide receiver Travis Brown, a free agent, returned to practice after being hit in the neck with a ball Friday.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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