The Gallaudet University Class of 2014 will graduate May 16. But one of its most distinguished members won't be there.
As his fellow graduates walk across the stage in the nation's capital, Adham Talaat will be more than 3,000 miles away. Talaat, who led the Bison football team to a historic 2013 season, was invited to the Seattle Seahawks' rookie minicamp.
Talaat was not selected during the seven rounds of the NFL Draft. But within hours of the draft's completion, Talaat accepted Seattle's offer of a tryout, and will participate in the Seahawks' minicamp from May 15-18.
"I am very grateful for this opportunity from the best organization in the NFL -- the Seattle Seahawks," Talaat said in a statement provided by the Gallaudet Sports Information Office. I believe I belong at this level and I am very excited to prove it. I am ready to get to work and learn. I will not disappoint!"
The Seahawks were one of six NFL teams at Talaat's Pro Day, which was held April 9 at Gallaudet. Also in attendance were representatives from the Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins.
The current roster of the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks includes third-year fullback Derrick Coleman, a UCLA graduate who is deaf. If Talaat makes the Seahawks, he will become the first Gallaudet player to suit up for an NFL team, and the fourth deaf player in league history -- joining Seattle's Coleman; former St. Louis Cardinals defensive tackle Bonnie Sloan (1973); and Kenny Walker, a linebacker for the Denver Broncos in 1991 and 1992.
A 6-foot-6, 292-pound defensive end, Talaat was a force for a 2013 Gallaudet team that finished with a 9-2 record, won the East Coast Football Conference championship and earned a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament for the first time in school history. Opposing blockers often double-teamed Talaat, but he still had a breakout season with 46 tackles and five quarterback sacks.
A graduate of West Springfield High School in Springfield, Va., Talaat was a finalist for the 2013 Gagliardi Award as the nation's outstanding Division III football player. He was also the first Bison to earn first-team Academic All-America honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Talaat wasn't the only player from the Washington, D.C., area to get the NFL's attention. Maryland defensive back Dexter McDougle, who missed the last nine games of the 2013 season after suffering a fractured collarbone against Connecticut, was selected by the New York Jets during the third round of the league's draft. McDougle, a 5-foot-10, 195-pounder from Falmouth, Va., was the 80th overall pick. A starter in 2011 and 2012, McDougle was also a two-time Academic All-Atlantic Coast Conference choice.
The player who succeeded the injured McDougle in Maryland's defensive backfield in 2013 turned that opportunity into a free-agent contract. Isaac Goins, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound cornerback, signed with the Miami Dolphins. Former Maryland linebacker Marcus Whitfield also signed a free-agent deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Whitfield, a graduate of Northwest High School in Germantown, Va., was a two-year starter for the Terrapins.