Every year players emerge from non-traditional football schools who go on to make names for themselves in the NFL. From the colleges of the Football Championship Subdivision to the little known NAIA, the lower divisions of college football are full of talent.
Let's take a closer look at a league that receives very little media attention, but has a plethora of NFL-caliber talent, NCAA Division II.
Here are five Division II stars who should hear their names called on draft day and have a chance to make big contributions to NFL teams.
Foketi has taken a very interesting path to end up as a legitimate prospect in the 2013 NFL draft.
The huge 6'5", 320-pound offensive tackle was a highly touted recruit out of high school before attending Mt. San Antonio College—a community college in Southern California.
After two successful seasons at Mt. San Antonio, Foketi transferred to Kansas State.
In 2010, Foketi started every game for the Wildcats at left tackle. However, after a 2011 season where he sat out with an injury, Foketi and Kansas Sate faced a hostile break-up.
Foketi once again transferred, this time to West Texas A&M.
After finally settling on a school, Foketi had a strong finish to his college career. He was a Gene Upshaw Award finalist, which is given to the top Division II lineman.
Foketi possess good size for an NFL lineman, with a strong frame and long arms.
He is a very active run blocker and was able to drive both Division I and Division II competition off the line. While Foketi needs to work on his footwork and pass blocking, he shows a lot of upside as a late-round pick.
According to Gil Brandt of NFL.com, scouts are viewing Foketi as more of a guard in the league.
With his combination of size and skill, Foketi should find himself a home.
Miles is entering the 2013 NFL draft as one of the most decorated players in the history of Division II football.
During his playing career at California University of Pennsylvania, Miles was named the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year, made four straight All-PSAC teams and was named the conference defensive player of the year on two occasions.
Miles was also named to two Division II All-America teams.
Miles finished his career with 258 total tackles and 10 interceptions.
It seems like Ty Powell has played just about every position possible during his football career.
The former high school quarterback and cornerback, played safety, outside linebacker and defensive end during his time at Harding University.
Powell and his coaches decided to settle on defensive end and this turned out to be a great decision.
In his two seasons at Harding—after transferring from De Anza College in Northern California—Powell started a total of 14 games.
He emerged on the scene his senior season, making 40 tackles (15 for loss) and 8.5 sacks. After the season, Powell was named a second-team All-American.
While Powell had a strong senior season, his success in the pre-draft training circuit is what has caught the attention of NFL representatives.
Powell had a very strong showing at both the Texas vs. Nation game and the Senior Bowl.
He also put up good numbers at the NFL combine, running a 4.64 second 40-yard dash, pushing 28 bench press reps and posting a 37" vertical jump.
Based on his mix of size and speed, Powell projects as an outside linebacker in the NFL.
He would be a perfect fit as a pass rusher on a team with a 3-4 defensive scheme.
Powell projects as a fifth-round pick and should contribute in third down situations for an NFL team next season.
Like all of the other players on this list, Bass dominated on the Division II stage.
The outside linebacker finished his career at Missouri Western State with 39.5 sacks and never missed a start, playing in 50 consecutive games.
Where Bass has shined the most, however, has been in competition against Division I athletes.
Bass was picked to play in the East-West Shrine Game and matched up very well with players from around the FBS.
As reported by Dane Brugler of nfldraftscout.com, Bass was able to use his quickness and strong hands to beat blockers off the ball.
Bass will have to make the move from outside linebacker to defensive end—where most NFL scouts project him to play—if he hopes to maximize his draft position.
Bass projects as a fifth-round pick and if he can play like he showed at the Shrine Game, should develop into a talented NFL defensive end.
If you read my earlier article, then you have already heard my raving review of Brandon Williams.
If you haven't, get ready to be introduced to one of the best players at any level of college football.
Williams is one of, if not the most, decorated players at any collegiate level in the 2013 NFL draft.
At 6’1", 335-pounds, the massive defensive tackle wreaked havoc against Division II competition on his way to being named to three All-American teams.
Williams put up the numbers of a first round caliber defensive tackle.
Over four seasons, Williams totaled 191 tackles (52.5 for loss) and 27 sacks. He also forced five fumbles in his senior season alone.
Williams performed very well at the Combine and at the Senior Bowl this offseason. He pushed out 38 bench reps and ran a 5.37 second 40-yard dash in Indianapolis, and drew double teams throughout the Senior Bowl game.
Williams' on-field mix of strength and agility has NFL scouts very excited about his potential.
Williams projects as a third or fourth round pick and should figure into a team's DT rotation during his rookie season.