Last year the Detroit Lions selected Army linebacker Caleb Campbell late in the 2008 NFL Draft, and there was a lot of debate when the United States Government decided to add a new rule that allowed military academy grads to go straight to the NFL and delay their service.
With the Army’s alternative-service-option policy created in 2005, Campbell would have been allowed to play football while completing his military service as a recruiter and then in the reserves, but then on July 8 the military revised that rule, which forced Campbell to join his West Point classmates and delay his NFL Dream.
This year, a year after Campbell, there is another service academy member who could be facing the same issue come Draft Day 2009. Navy fullback Eric Kettani is scheduled to join us on an In The Bleachers Podcast in the near future and is fresh off a solid Senior Bowl experience, where he scored a touchdown and had a good week at practice.
The real struggle for Kettani might not be to get drafted, or even signed as a free agent if he isn’t drafted, but whether the new administration reverses the decision by the old one, which would allow Kettani to leap right into the NFL without any wait.
Scouts are saying that Kettani has the tools, and it was evident in his workout, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds. He also boasts a 32-inch vertical leap and is able to bench press 395 pounds and clean 335.
Even with all of that, NFL teams might be shying away from him unless there is a clear path that he will be able to play and participate in NFL Camps after the draft.
I am all for letting athletes in the Service Academies postpone their Service to their country in order to try their luck with the NFL or other professional sport. It is good publicity for the Service Academies and might attract other athletes who would not have considered going to Army, Navy, or the Air Force.
But whether the administration decides to postpone his commitment or not, just make a decision and make it quick. This young man does not need to go through the emotional roller coaster that Caleb Campbell went through last season.
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