Former Utah receiver John Madsen is getting a second chance to play football, this time with the Oakland Raiders.
The ex-Ute is hoping to make the Raiders' 53-man roster. The one-time walk-on from Hunter High was having his best season for the Utes until he broke his fibula (leg) and was forced to miss the final three games of 2005. The senior had 55 catches for 672 yards and six touchdowns in nine starts, almost doubling his yardage from 2004. The injury ended his season and his opportunity to further showcase his talents to pro scouts.
"I was disappointed," he said. "A lot of teams wanted to sign me, but I couldn't do anything," he said.
He also missed out on the pro combine in March because his leg wasn't healed. The former Hunter basketball player has some intangibles that make him a legitimate candidate for the NFL.
Utes offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig says that Madsen has potential because of his 6-foot-5 frame and good hands.
"He's got a unique combination of size and ability," Ludwig says. "John can come down with the ball when it's being contested, and that's what makes him good."
Despite the injury, several teams wanted the Ute to compete for a roster spot, including Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles.
About 15 minutes after the final round of last month's NFL draft, Madsen got a call from his agent telling him that the Oakland Raiders intended to sign him as an unrestricted rookie free-agent. The opportunity is all he wanted.
"I was just really excited," said the West Valley native. "I just have to go there and prove to the organization that I can play," he said.
Along with the opportunity to play pro ball, Madsen might find himself doing a little stargazing. The mandatory mini-camp means veterans like Randy Moss and Warren Sapp will be in camp.
"I've idolized them since high school," he said.
Third-round pick, offensive lineman Paul McQuistan of Weber State, also made an impression with the players. He's been given the nickname "The Mullet" for his retro hairstyle.
The rookie was very impressive in his debut. Madsen and McQuistan could be diamonds in the rough for Oakland. Madsen is physically very similar to former Penn State receiver Joe Jurevicius. Both players are similar in height and weight.
Time will tell if Madsen can be as steady and reliable a receiver as Jurevicius. Madsen said he feels he can be that type of player if he gets the right opportunity.