BEHIND THE PLATE: Undrafted? No problem for former Wave stars

The NFL Draft last weekend proved many things.

Teams desperate for a quarterback will not waste a first-round pick on one who isn’t the same as Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. Running backs were not worth the gamble in the first round, either, as none were selected for the first time in 50 years.

The offense and defense start in the trenches as the big boys clouded the opening rounds, leaving a broken-hearted Geno Smith playing with his phone in the green room and then firing his agent this week because he fell to the Jets and their drama. Then there’s the rush of optimizing fall hard once the draft ends, making fans question why their favorite team didn’t do enough to keep up with the rest of the teams in the division.

But if there’s anything that this draft has shown recently it’s not the be-all, end-all scenario if you want to make it to the NFL.

Look at some of best players in the game today and they either were drafted late or went undrafted and spent some time in the CFL or even the AFL before making it big in the NFL. Tom Brady didn’t get picked until the sixth round and the rest, they say, is history.

On the local level, Fallon grads Harvey Dahl and Josh Mauga didn’t hear their name called during the draft weekend. Dahl, though, received a call from the Cowboys and was invited to camp before signing with the 49ers. A few years with the Falcons passed and now Dahl’s with the improved St. Louis Rams helping protect the No. 1 pick from the 2011 Draft.

Mauga, on the other hand, was picked to go in the middle rounds before an injury ended his season and forced him to not participate in the NFL Combine at full strength. After a couple auditions for the Jets, Mauga’s found a home in New Jersey and recently signed a one-year extension.

But two former Greenwave stars are still waiting anxiously for their phone to ring from the NFL.

Aaron Lesué, who graduated in 2000, is lighting it up in the AFL, breaking records and making a name for himself with the Utah Blaze as a receiver. Lesué was one of the few highlights during the Greenwave football season as Fallon struggled with the bigger schools before the realignment three years ago.

After missing two games because of injury, Lesué has been solid in his return as he caught 14 passes for 156 yards and four touchdowns last week against Cleveland. Before the Cleveland game, he had 15 receptions for 239 yards and five touchdowns.

“Lesué is good,” Cleveland coach Steve Thonn told the The Plain Dealer. “He made some great catches. A couple times, we were caught in zone. A couple times, he just beat our guy.”

It would be a surprise if Lesué doesn’t hear from the NFL this season because of what he’s been able to do in the AFL. A invitation to camp is all this Fallon grad is wanting so he can prove that he has the skills and mindset to succeed on football’s grandest stage.

Facing a more difficult road is Trent de Braga, who wrapped up four years at Division II Colorado Mesa and may be attending law school. De Braga participated in an inaugural scout bowl in March but the former state wrestling champ didn’t hear from the NFL. He said, however, that his agent is looking into lining up tryouts with the CFL and might pursue the AFL.

But considering the obstacles Dahl and Mauga accomplished to fulfill their NFL dreams, Lesué and de Braga could be the next Fallon duo playing on Sundays in front of thousands of fans.

Thomas Ranson can be contacted at


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