Undrafted, Undeterred

Three former Mountaineers were drafted during this past weekend's NFL Draft. While defensive end Johnny Dingle was not among them, the talented pass rusher quickly found himself as a free agent target.

As he watched this weekend's NFL Draft, Dingle was looking heavily at the first four rounds. During that time, running back Steve Slaton was the only Mountaineer to have his name shown on the draft board. After round four, Dingle moved on to Plan B.

"Once I saw I didn't get picked up in the first four rounds, my agent and I decided that we were thinking the free agent route was the best thing to do," Dingle told BlueGoldNews.com on Sunday night.

In the remaining three rounds, Dingle paid less attention to the draft. When things wrapped up in Radio City Music Hall around 6:00 PM, his agent went to work sorting through a handful of free agent offers. Ultimately, an opportunity with the Kansas City Chiefs caught Dingle's eye enough to seal the deal.

The Chiefs, considered by many pundits to be among the handful of victors during this weekend's draft, recently parted ways with star defensive end Jared Allen. The opportunity to make the team was just one of the reasons Dingle decided to sign on with Kansas City.

"I just feel like the Chiefs were a great fit for me," Dingle said, noting that he had heard from Kansas City throughout the process leading up to the draft.

After a breakout season in 2007, Dingle capped off his Mountaineer career with a dominating performance in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma. After the upset of the Sooners, Dingle announced his intentions to turn pro.

While his standout season and big-time bowl performance might have boosted his pro stock at the time, it still wasn't enough to have Dingle's name listed among the 252 players selected in this year's draft. Thus, he finds himself in a familiar spot: having to prove he belongs in what many would consider an uphill battle.

"You know I've been through that before," he said. "I had to prove myself at West Virginia and in the Big East and against Oklahoma. Now, I have to do it again."

Dingle will participate in a rookie mini-camp next weekend with the Chiefs. With the next step in a grueling process now identified, Johnny Dingle is just hoping to make the most of the opportunity that has presented itself, albeit not in the way he was hoping.

"I've just got to go out there and ball," he said. "I've got to make a name for myself and show that I can play, and hopefully find a home with the Kansas City Chiefs."


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