Brown, Vann Lead Group of 49ers UFAs

Let's face it, it's a hard road to make it in the NFL for players who don't get drafted. For every current star like Tony Romo, Antonio Gates and Wes Welker, or even Hall-of-Famers such as John Randle and Warren Moon, there are thousands of guys who've had a sip of Gatorade in some training camp and were never heard from again.

While we're all familiar with the feel good "diamond in the rough" stories of players such as Kurt Warner, James Harrison or Jeff Garcia, the odds of any of the players on this list below making an impact with the 49ers – or any other team – are long indeed.

We know that. They know that. The thing that makes sports so great though is that while we can all make predictions, we never know what's going to happen. While there's a strong chance that none of these young men have ever met each other before, they all have one thing in common besides being signed by the 49ers a couple days after the dust settled on the 2010 draft: They all believe that they'll be the one that bucks the odds.

I'm a firm believer that everyone in an NFL training camp has the physical ability to play in the league, on some level. What separates the ones who do from the ones that don't are intangibles such as confidence, opportunity, professionalism, maturity and a whole lot of luck. No one ever said life was fair. Some guys just find themselves in better situations than others, whether it's a coach who believes in them, injuries to the veterans ahead of them or the ball bouncing their way in some preseason game.

We'll find out in the months ahead what fate has in store for these guys. For now, they're all 49ers.

LB Mike Balogun – Oklahoma – (6-0, 240)

Though he missed the 2009 season, Balogun appeared in 10 games (2 starts) for the Sooners in 2008 and recorded 13 tackles, including six in the National Championship game against Florida. Starred at Lackawanna (PA) Community College before transferring to Oklahoma and was named Northeast Football Conference player of the Year in 2007 and was a first-team Northeast Football All-Conference and second-team NJCAA All-American. Born 9/28/83 in Upper Marlboro, MD.

CB Tramaine Brock – Belhaven – (5-10, 197)

The well-traveled Brock played for three different programs. As a senior at Belheven he had 51 tackles, 6 interceptions, 2.5 sacks and 10 pass deflections. He transferred from Minnesota where as a junior where he recorded 73 tackles and had one interception. Before Minnesota he was with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Bulldogs, who he led to a share of the NJCAA championship as a sophomore. He totaled 7 interceptions in 17 games for them. Born 8/20/88 in Gulfport, MS.

QB Jarrett Brown – West Virginia – (6-3, 224)

Brown is an intriguing, athletic prospect who started only season at WVU because Pat White was ahead of him but still threw for more yards (2,144) than his more-heralded predecessor did any of his seasons for the Mountaineers. He completed 268 of 421 passes (63.6 percent) for 2,943 yards, with 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his career and added 1,138 rushing yards on 234 carries and 13 more touchdowns. He was 2nd-team All Big East and figures to compete with Nate Davis for the third quarterback job. Born 1/23/86 in West Palm Beach, FL.

WR Shay Hodge – Mississippi – (6-1, 214)

The durable Hodge played in all 50 games during his four-year career at Ole Miss and ranks as school's career-leader in receiving yards (2,646) and is second in receptions (173) and touchdowns (22). He was named 1st-team All-SEC as a senior and became the first 1,000-yard receiver in school history (1,135). Born 10/18/87 in Morton, MS.

LB Keaton Kristick – Oregon St. – (6-3, 234)

Kristick also played 50 games for his school and started the past two years. He earned first-team All-Pac 10 honors as a senior after leading the Beavers with 95 tackles and adding a sack and two interceptions. He faces a crowded field trying to make the team as inside linebacker. Born 4/25/88 in Naperville, IL.

WR Scott Long – Louisville – (6-2, 216)

Played in 35 games (13 starts) during his four-year career at Louisville, and totaled 91 catches for 1,286 yards and four touchdowns. Led team with 53 receptions for 727 yards with two touchdowns in 12 games as a senior. Long suffered a season-ending ACL injury as a junior. Born 10/22/86 in Southport, NC.

S Chris Maragos – Wisconsin – (5-10, 200)

Maragos played in 26 games (19 starts) at safety in his two-year career at Wisconsin after transferring from Western Michigan. Earned honorable mention All-Big Ten and the UW's Tom Wiesner Award as a senior captain, where he started all 13 games and led the team with four interceptions and had 49 tackles and a sack as well. He had 45 tackles and an interception as a junior and was primarily a wide receiver for Western Michigan as a freshman. Born 1/6/87 in Racine, WI.

WR Jared Perry – Missouri – (6-1, 177)

Perry played in 52 games (27 starts) for the Tigers and finished with 137 receptions for 1,844 yards and 13 touchdowns. He finished second on the team with 46 receptions for 696 yards and six scores as a senior. Earned honorable mention freshman All-American honors and was named to the Big 12's All-Freshman team by The Sporting News. Born 3/29/88 in La Marque, TX.

CB Patrick Stoudamire – Western Illinois – (5-10, 206)

Stoudamire was named first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference three times, and totaled 134 tackles, six interceptions and 41 pass breakups over his 42-game career for the Leathernecks. As a senior, he recorded 37 tackles, 17 pass breakups and an interception. He's got athletic genes in the family as he's the cousin of Salim Stoudamire of the Milwaukee Bucks and also of retired veteran NBA guard Damon Stoudamire. Born 2/21/88 in Portland, OR.

CB/KR LeRoy Vann – Florida A&M – (5-8, 177)

The diminutive Vann is one of five players in NCAA history to have over a thousand yards in both punt and kickoff return yards over his career. He's got an NCAA record with 11 combined touchdown returns, and has totaled 58 career punt returns for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns. He owns five NCAA return records in all and is tied for another, and holds nine more school and conference record as well. Finish with 29 punt returns for 569 yards (20.2 average, second in the country) and five touchdowns as a senior. He'll challenge a couple of receivers, Ted Ginn and 6th-round pick Kyle Williams, for the punt returner job. Born 11/18/86 in Tampa, FL.


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