Tim Harris was sitting on a patio bench at his family’s Richmond-area home Saturday when he got the phone call. San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch had called to tell the former Varina High School and University of Virginia cornerback, “We’re going to be drafting you. We’re going to turn this card in. You’re going to be a 49er.”
Lynch then put Harris on with coach Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers tweeted out video of the exchange, taken inside their offices, in which it’s clear to hear the emotion in Harris’s voice as he talks to his new bosses.
Later that day, a family friend posted the other angle of the exchange, a video of Harris at home, receiving the phone call, smiling and walking through his house as excited family members alternated between chattering and shushing each other.
For Harris, who spent six years at UVA and was slowed by a string of injuries, being drafted Saturday was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
From other athletes, not hearing their name during the seven rounds of the NFL draft only meant another obstacle on their path to becoming pro football players.
The NFL draft’s seven rounds came and went without one Virginia Tech football player being selected, the first time that has happened since 1993. Still, by Sunday evening, four Hokies announced they’d be getting their shot at pro football.
Defensive tackle Ricky Walker (Dallas Cowboys), offensive tackle Yosuah Nijman (Green Bay Packers) and offensive lineman Kyle Chung (Chicago Bears) all signed as undrafted free agents after the conclusion of the draft Sunday.
Running back Steven Peoples accepted an invitation to rookie minicamp for a tryout with the Arizona Cardinals, where he’ll have a chance to earn a contract.
They weren’t alone.
Virginia, after seeing safety Juan Thornhill picked by the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round and cornerback Tim Harris (Varina High School) in the sixth round by the San Francisco 49ers, had four other players sign as undrafted free agents.
Offensive tackle Marcus Applefield is headed to the Baltimore Ravens, running back Jordan Ellis will get his shot with the Cincinnati Bengals, outside linebacker Chris Peace signed with the San Diego Chargers and wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus will join the Atlanta Falcons.
Old Dominion, which saw defensive end Oshane Ximines become the first player selected from that program when the New York Giants picked him in the third round, then had wide receiver Travis Fulgham (Detroit Lions) taken in the sixth round, also found out Sunday four of its other players would get the chance to pursue NFL ambitions.
Running back Jeremy Cox (Los Angeles Chargers), wide receiver Jonathan Duhart (Detroit Lions), a former Manchester High School star, and defensive end Tim Ward (Kansas City Chiefs) all signed as undrafted free agents.
Wide receiver Isaiah Harper received a rookie minicamp tryout with the Los Angeles Rams.
Clemson star defensive end Clelin Ferrell (Benedictine), the fourth overall pick of the Oakland Raiders, was the Richmond area’s top pick.
Harris followed him in the sixth round.
Like Duhart, Wake Forest wide receiver Greg Dortch — a former Highland Springs High School star — went the undrafted free agent route, signing with the New York Jets.
Former Collegiate QB Wilton Speight, who transferred to UCLA and beginning his college career at Michigan, signed with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent.
Michigan State wide receiver Felton Davis (Highland Springs High School) signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chiefs.