Associated Press

Former Penn State forward signed to Kansas City Chiefs practice squad

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After playing four seasons of college basketball at Penn State, forward Ross Travis decided to give pro football a shot. While the 6-foot-7 Minnesota native was seen as having the build and athleticism required to give such a transition a chance, he hadn’t played football since his freshman year of high school.

Given the lack of experience it came as no surprise that Travis wasn’t taken in this spring’s NFL Draft, but that didn’t keep him from working towards the goal of landing a spot with an NFL franchise. And Sunday that perseverance paid off, as Travis was signed to the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad according to Darren Wolfson of KSTP Minneapolis.

The practice squad is different from the 53-man roster that teams had to work their way down to this weekend (the 53-man roster deadline fell on Saturday), as it consists of ten players who went through the waiver process prior to joining said group. And he joins a team that already has one tight end who has made the transition from college basketball to the pro gridiron in former Milwaukee forward Demetrius Harris.

Kansas City has four tight ends on its 53-man roster, led by Travis Kelce, and it goes without saying that making the move from the practice squad to the active roster can be tough for any player much less one with the on-field experience of Travis. But, being on the practice squad allows Travis to get the reps that he’ll need as he looks to make that transition.

Former Penn State forward headed to Houston Texans rookie minicamp

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In recent years NFL teams have looked to college basketball for possible prospects, with franchises leaving no stone unturned in its quest to find players capable of having an impact. Sunday it was announced that another former college basketball player will get to take the next step towards a possible NFL career, with former Penn State forward Ross Travis headed to rookie minicamp with the Houston Texans.

News of the Texans picking up Travis was announced by Tier 1 Sports Management, which is representing Travis, and he’ll be going to the camp as a tight end.

While it’s tough for undrafted free agents to make their way deeper into the spring and hopefully the training camp roster, simply getting the invite is a positive step for Travis as he hasn’t played football since his freshman year of high school. There should also be some familiarity with the head coach, as Bill O’Brien spent two seasons as the head coach at Penn State before landing his first NFL head coaching job with the Texans.

The Texans will hold their rookie minicamp next weekend. Former Old Dominion forward Richard Ross received an invitation from the Minnesota Vikings to attend their rookie minicamp on Sunday, and former Miami University point guard Quinten Rollins was selected in the second round by the Green Bay Packers.

Former Miami (OH) point guard now a hot name in the 2015 NFL Draft

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source: AP
Quinten Rollins intercepts a pass (AP)

During a four-year basketball career at Miami (OH), point guard Quinten Rollins made an impact on both ends of the floor for the RedHawks. The 6-foot guard finished fourth in program history in career assists and was also second in career steals.

But after his basketball career was over, Rollins still had a desire to compete and someone suggested he tryout for the Miami football team, since he still had a year of eligibility remaining. So Rollins used a NCAA rule that allows players who have exhausted four years of eligibility in one sport to get a waiver to play an extra season in another.

In a story from Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Rollins received a phone call from Miami football coach Chuck Martin inviting him to practice with the team last spring after basketball ended. After winning MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors in his one and only season of college football in 2014, it appears that Rollins found the sport he was meant to play.

At cornerback this season Rollins registered 72 tackles, eight for loss, and also had seven interceptions and a touchdown.

College basketball and football fans will probably remember former Duke point guard Greg Paulus playing quarterback at Syracuse. Former Oregon point guard Johnathan Loyd also exercised this same rule and played on Oregon’s Rose Bowl-winning team at wide receiver this season after four years on the basketball team.

Rollins is a point guard who transitioned to football like Paulus and Loyd, but unlike those two, he’s firmly on the NFL radar and considered a fast-rising pro prospect. Rollins is a hot name in the 2015 NFL Draft, with some scouts even saying that he could go in the first round after some flashes of strong play at this week’s Senior Bowl.

It’s a meteoric rise for a hooper turned college football player who only played one season in college after playing some football in high school. We’ve seen college basketball players like Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham transition from hoops to the NFL before, so Rollins taking this path wouldn’t be entirely unique.

It’ll be interesting to see how Rollins continues to perform in workouts and at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis next month. It would be yet another story of a basketball player finding success on the gridiron and it’s a trend that will likely continue.

Former UC Irvine forward could make NFL debut with Arizona Cardinals

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Darren Fells played four years of college basketball at UC Irvine and another five years of professional basketball in places like Belgium, Finland and Argentina, but the former high school football standout had an itch to try football once again after giving up the sport for college.

The 28-year-old Fells was an all-state receiver at Fullerton High School in California but opted to play basketball at UC Irvine instead of football scholarship offers to programs like UCLA.

But after seeing the success of other college basketball players transitioning to pro football tight ends, like Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham, the 6-foot-7, 281-pound Fells decided to give it a shot when he grew tired of his basketball career.

It didn’t hurt that Fells was a talented high school player and that his brother, Daniel Fells, is already a NFL tight end with the New York Giants.

After trying to latch on with the Seattle Seahawks, Fells finally stuck with the Arizona Cardinals practice squad last season, and according to Helene Elliot the Los Angeles Times, Fells finally has a chance to make his NFL debut on Sunday, 18 months after he returned to football.

“It’s still, to this day, pretty surreal to me,” Fells said to Elliot. “I hadn’t been on a football field in nine years and now here I am, playing for the Arizona Cardinals.”

Fells averaged 10.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game in 123 career games at UC Irvine but players from the Big West don’t make the NBA very often. If Fells enters a regular season game as he could on Sunday, he would be the first person from UC Irvine ever to play in the NFL, since the school doesn’t have a football program.

It would be yet another college basketball-turned-NFL story if Fells were to get some playing time for the Cardinals, but even if he isn’t an All-Pro or a starter, his story of being away from football for nine years and making a NFL roster is very unique in recent sports history.

Arizona hosts the San Francisco 49ers at 4:05 p.m. EST on Sunday.

VIDEO: Shaka Smart covets RGIII’s NFL spot

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Shaka Smart may be one of the best coaches outside of John Calipari at making the scene. He’s one of the hippest young coaches out there, so when he makes an appearance, people take note. With the Washington Redskins taking training camp in Richmond, Smart dropped by to check out this year’s team, and had a chat with CSNWashington about what role he’d like to play if he were trying out.

Of course he’d want to be the QB. And you know the creator of “Havoc” would know how to scramble.

Nice to see that (not) Perd Hapley got the big TV gig in D.C., by the way.

St. Mary’s Rob Jones turns down offer to try out for Minnesota Vikings

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Coming off a season in which he averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds for St. Mary’s, Rob Jones made it clear that he won’t be trading the hardwood for the gridiron. He declined an offer from the Minnesota Vikings to attend the team’s rookie mini-camp.

“I wanted to see where I can go with basketball first,” said Jones, 23, told CSNBayArea. “Two or three years from now, if I’m not where I want to be with basketball, I can still have that option.

“Football is intriguing, but it’s really a decision I made five years ago.”

The 6-6, 237-pounds Jones certainly has the body to perhaps work his way into the NFL, but he says basketball remains his focus.

At Archbishop Riordan High in San Francisco in 2006, Jones caught 33 passes for 499 yards and seven touchdowns.

Jones reportedly considered playing both football and basketball in college at the University of San Diego. He met with then-coach Jim Harbaugh at San Diego, before Harbaugh moved on to Stanford.

There is a history of large-bodied basketball players taking a shot or succeeding in the NFL. Antonio Gates went from playing basketball at Kent State to being one of the NFL’s best tight ends. New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham played hoops at Miami.

“I played against Jimmy Graham my sophomore year; I’ve guarded him,” Jones said in the same interview. “It’s really cool that those guys had that opportunity to play football. It’s something that’s been in the back of my mind, too. But it’s really my third option.”

His football prospects were moved to the back burner after transferring to St. Mary’s, which does not have a football team.

This past season, Jones helped to lead the Gaels to the NCAA tournament, finishing with a record of 27-6 and losing to Purdue in the Round of 64.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_