Western Oregon Photo
Victor Filipe had an impressive senior season at Western Oregon.

Hardly anyone would have considered former Highland High defensive tackle Victor Filipe to be an NFL draft prospect following his senior season at Western Oregon University.

But Filipe made NFL scouts take notice following impressive workouts at the pro-day showcases at the University of Utah and Oregon during the spring. Filipe, after putting up superior numbers to some certain first-round picks, now has hopes of being selected in one of the later rounds in the NFL draft's second day on Sunday.

Filipe, listed at 6-foot-2 and 319 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds, completed 33 bench-press reps of 225 pounds, and displayed a 30-inch vertical leap at Oregon's pro day. Those numbers compare favorably to LSU's Glenn Dorsey (5.12 in the 40, 27 bench-press reps) and USC's Sedrick Ellis (5.2 in the 40), both of whom are almost certain to be selected in the draft's top 10 picks.

Now, no one is going to confuse playing at Western Oregon with LSU and USC. Filipe, who was highly recruited out of Highland High after twice being named to the all-state team, started his collegiate career at Oregon. He played there for three years before some disagreements with the Ducks' coaching staff made him decide to transfer to Western Oregon just weeks before his senior season was set to begin.

Filipe produced for the Wolves in 2007, recording 22 tackles and seven sacks. He had three sacks in Western Oregon's 26-12 win over the Colorado School of Mines in the Dixie Rotary Bowl in St. George in December.

Filipe realized his draft stock would be negatively impacted by leaving a Pac-10 school for a Division II program. But he kept his dream of playing in the NFL alive, and understood that he had almost no margin for error both in playing and in workouts in front of scouts to make it there.

"The first thing for me was to dominate the Division II level, and I did that," Filipe said. "The next thing was to show that I'm strong enough, fast enough and athletic enough to play on the next level. That's what the pro days are for. I prepared for two months straight."

Getting NFL teams to take notice still has proven to be a challenge for Filipe and his agent, Joseph Barrett. Filipe is not listed as a draftable prospect by ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr., and he isn't among the top 500 prospects highlighted by USA Today.

Both Filipe and Barrett acknowledge that Filipe is most likely going to have to sign with a team as an undrafted free agent to pursue his NFL dream. They still, however, remain hopeful that Filipe will have his name called on Sunday.

"I'm nervous," Filipe said. "It's hard to focus when I'm in the weight room and running. It's on my mind constantly. I expect to go as a free agent, but lots of people have been talking, spreading the word about going on the (draft's) second day."

Barrett said he wouldn't be too disheartened if Filipe isn't drafted. He's confident that if a team signs Filipe as a free agent, he won't have any problem proving himself.

"If we get him into a camp, it's free competition," Barrett said. "It's open competition and that's all we need. The tragedy of the story would be if they don't invite him to a camp."

Filipe, who earned his degree in political science, just wants to continue playing the sport that's given him so much.

"Football has opened up a lot of doors for me," Filipe said. "It's given me an education, and that's what's most important. But it's not just that. It's given me the strength to overcome tons of adversity that I faced growing up and going through the college ranks. It would be a dream come true (to be drafted), not just for me, but also for my friends and family.

E-mail: aaragon@desnews.com