By: JOSH PATTERSON, Wednesday, April 18, 2018 1:00 am
Adam Sauder just wants a shot.
The 2011 Leo graduate returned to Phoenix on Monday after departing from The Spring League, an “elite development league and scouting event for professional football talent,” according to the league website. Sauder, who went undrafted following a career at Taylor University where he earned All-American honors twice as a defensive back, switched to outside linebacker as a member of the South team.
“I felt like it went well,” Sauder said of the move from the secondary. “It was a little bit of a transition learning that position, but after a couple days I felt like I caught my stride. (Outside linebacker is) where (my agent and I) think I have the best possibility of playing at the next level.”
While the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Sauder lacks the pedigree of a big-time NCAA Division I program – such as his team’s starting quarterback, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, or running back Ben Tate of Auburn – he remains hopeful that his performance in The Spring League opened the eyes of at least one of the 18 NFL teams or the 4-6 CFL teams that sent scouts to watch games held at the University of Texas in Austin.
Sauder’s performance for the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League in 2017 certainly aids in that effort. He finished the season ranked sixth leaguewide with 96 total tackles and tied for seventh with 11 passes defensed. With such a heavy emphasis placed on whether or not a player can perform in the pros, the 25-year-old thinks he has something to offer any team that may have interest.
“It gives me some standing within the pro sports world that I can make plays and be productive on the football field,” Sauder said of his exploits with the Rattlers in 2017. “You can be the best athlete, but if you’re not producing on the field teams are going to overlook you.
“If you’re not going to be able to help the team win, they’ll look past you pretty quickly.”
While Sauder doesn’t currently plan to return to the Rattlers, that option remains on the table, which would give scouts another opportunity to see what he can do at his new position.
“I haven’t talked to (head) coach (Kevin) Guy or any of the coaches about the possibility about me coming back and playing for them,” Sauder said. “With any sort of indoor or arena league, you have a lot of turnover with players, so the possibility is there.”
For now? The waiting game beckons. With the NFL draft set to run April 26-28, each team’s scouting department continues to scour footage from thousands of athletes across all levels of college football, along with the tapes submitted by many more free agents.
At this point, all that’s left for Sauder is to let his agent reach out to teams with a singular goal – one more chance to show what he can do.
“(I’ll) put together the game film from The Spring League, and they will send us a list of all the scouts that were there,” Sauder said. “I’ll give that to my agent, and I’ll let him contact those teams and hopefully one of them sees something they like.”