Hudson grad gets phone call from the Cleveland Browns

Published:

by Frank Aceto

Associate Sports Editor

It's a who's-who list of Hall of Famers.

John Randle, Dick "Night Train" Lane, Warren Moon and Willie Brown come to mind.

You could also add Super Bowl winners Kurt Warner and James Harrison to that list too.

What does Hudson graduate Mike Niam have in common with this all-star cast of former NFL players?

Like Niam, none of them were drafted.

Niam still has hope of seeing his childhood dream become a reality despite not hearing his name called at the NFL Draft.

The standout inside linebacker, who recently concluded a stellar career at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., got a call from the Cleveland Browns one hour after the draft ended.

"The Browns called me about coming to mini-camp," Niam said. "I think it was one of their scouts. It's all a blur right now. I just heard it was someone from the Browns."

Niam is expected to report to mini-camp May 9. The mini-camp is scheduled to take place May 10, 11 and 12.

"I've talked to a couple of guys who went through it," Niam said. "It's just a training camp with meetings, practice and a walkthrough. There's a lot of information and I have to pick it up quickly."

While Niam certainly appreciates the Browns' interest, he knows nothing is guaranteed. He'll need to perform well if he wants to earn a spot on the team.

"I'm just really excited and really anxious," Niam said. "I wish it was sooner. I just want to do whatever I can to impress the coaches so they can have a spot on the team for me."

Niam, like most NFL hopefuls in recent weeks, participated in a number of scouting combines. He plans on continuing his rigorous workouts until he heads to mini-camp.

"I feel confident," Niam said. "I definitely feel I have what it takes for them to keep me."

Prior to his phone call, Niam wasn't exactly in the best mood. He had watched the entire NFL Draft on television only to see his name not called.

"I was hoping to get drafted in the sixth or seventh round," Niam said. "I wasn't too sure I was going to get drafted. I had that feeling in the back of my mind. Once that happened, I was looking for that free-agent opportunity."

Niam hopes to make his dream of playing in the NFL a reality despite being hindered by knee injuries throughout his college career.

Niam, 23, finished his senior year with 49 tackles and earned second-team All-Southern Conference honors despite missing some time.

Niam could see a future teammate on the opposite sideline if he makes the team. Brian Winters, a 2009 Hudson graduate, was drafted in the third round by the New York Jets.

"I'm really happy for him," Niam said. "I know he was a beast in college. He'll definitely make an impact and push for starting time."

Not long after he got the good news, Niam had a conversation with Hudson head football coach Ron Wright, who was the linebackers coach when Niam played for the Explorers.

"He called to tell me he was excited for me," Niam said.

Niam would have been happy to sign with any NFL squad. The fact that his favorite team contacted him was icing on the cake.

"I'm a Browns fan," Niam said. "I went to a lot of their games. I'm just really grateful to have the opportunity."

Email: faceto@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9444

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