If you ever heard of Gustavus Adolphus College before the 2002 NFL draft, you are a true college junkee.
For those who might not be familiar, it is a Division III school in St. Peter, Min., located Southwest of Minneapolis on I-169. As for why such information is relevant to the Oakland Raiders, they selected wide receiver Ryan Hoag with the last pick of draft.
Hoag received the distinction of Mr. Irrelevant as a result of being the final pick in the draft, can be significant. While Hoag is not a threat to supplant Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, or Jerry Porter for a job, he has the size and speed to develop into an NFL prospect.
"I think we've got great competition at the receiver spot with all of those guys," Raiders head coach Bill Callahan said. "The depth at that position is solid and the competition is fierce. He's a kid that's behind the eight-ball in terms of the pro system but his intelligence allows him to pick up on things."
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Hoag logged a 4.38-second time in the 40-yard dash and had the best time in the three-cone run at the combine.
While Hoag shined as a junior and senior at Gustavus Adolphus College, it remains to be seen whether he can make the quantum leap from Division III competition to the NFL. After all, it's hard enough for guys that come from Division I programs, where the competition is closer to NFL caliber than Division III.
"Everybody's systems are different," Callahan said. "There's a difference because everyone comes from a different program with a different emphasis. All I'm concerned about is getting them ingrained into our system."
Hoag is also still a raw talent, having played just one year of high school football and three in college. Hoag is an intriguing story in that he originally went to Wake Forest to play soccer before transferring to Gustavus Adolphus to walk-on as a football player.
"He has speed and that's the one positive attribute that he has to transition into this level," Callahan said. "He's learning and he's a smart guy. He works hard and continues to progress but it's tough to make that transition for any rookie whether you come from Division III or Division I."
The Raiders kept six receivers last season. If Oakland goes the same route this season Rice, Brown and Porter are slamdunks. Marcus Knight would likely have a roster spot with Alvis Whitted, Hoag and fellow draftee Doug Gabriel fighting for the last two spots. Hoag has a shot if he can impress on special teams.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached via-email at firstname.lastname@example.org