James Onwualu, the former Cretin-Derham Hall star, leads a group of undrafted talent from Minnesota that will get an opportunity to pursue their dream of playing in the NFL.
The Los Angeles Chargers won over Onwualu Saturday and signed the linebacker out of Notre Dame as an undrafted free agent. According to NFL.com reporter Ian Rapoport, Onwualu received considerable interest from around the league.
Other undrafted local products that signed or received interest from NFL teams include Jonah Pirsig, Charlie Miller, Phillip Nelson, Jack Nelson and Mitch Leidner.
Many analysts considered Onwualu, the 2013 Star Tribune Super Preps standout, to be a late-round draft pick. He played four seasons with Notre Dame and was a three-year starter, collecting six career sacks, three forced fumbles and 19.5 tackles for a loss. He also played a regular role on special teams and will likely settle into the similar role to begin his NFL career.
Here is a roundup of other undrafted Minnesota talent:
Jonah Pirsig, the former Gophers offensive tackle and Blue Earth Area High School star, signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans. He was a four-year letter winner with the Gophers and earned All-Big Ten academic honors.
Charlie Miller, the Dartmouth defensive back that starred at Totino-Grace, signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. His speed earned attention from scouts throughout the season and at his pro day workout when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds.
Mitch Leidner said he received about seven tryout offers from NFL teams, including the Vikings. The former Gophers quarterback and Lakeville South product, once was projected a first-round draft pick, accepted an invitation from Baltimore and will begin his tryout at this weekend’s minicamp. Leidner completed nearly 57 percent of his passes for 7,287 yards and 36 touchdowns with 32 interceptions during his Gophers career. He also rushed for 33 TDs in four seasons.
Phillip Nelson, the former Gophers quarterback and Mankato West star, reportedly has tryouts with the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns the next two weekends. Nelson played in seven games as true freshman with the Gophers, transferred to Rutgers and then Eastern Carolina. Former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna compared Nelson to former Dallas Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo, who also went undrafted.
Jack Nelson, the former Winona State record-setting quarterback from Byron, Minn., earned invitations to rookie minicamp from the Vikings and Indianapolis Colts. The Vikings host their camp this weekend. Nelson threw for 12,007 yards and 102 touchdowns as a four-year starter at Winona State.
Jalen Myrick was the only Gophers product drafted last week. Jacksonville selected the cornerback in the seventh round, 222nd overall.