Rams select UH’s Onobun in sixth round of NFL draft
In professional sports, there are countless tales of athletes who claim they were better at something other than the game in which they make their livelihood.
Be it a running back who was an all-state point guard in high school or a major-league first baseman who was a starting quarterback during his college days, pros often have to make a decision as to which sport will carry them to the next level.
For former UH tight end Fendi Onobun, that moment came after a four-year basketball career at Arizona. Onobun had a contract to play basketball overseas waiting to be signed, but he also had an itch to give football another shot.
Fortunately for Onobun, he scratched that itch and returned to Houston, where he had excelled on the hardwood at Alief Taylor High School, but had never played a down of football for the Lions.
With a degree from Arizona in tow, Onobun took out a loan, enrolled in graduate school at UH and walked onto head coach Kevin Sumlin’s football team. In his mind, it was a risk he just couldn’t pass up.
It was also a risk that culminated in Onobun being selected by the St. Louis Rams in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL draft on Saturday.
“I’m a big believer that God orders steps and that ever since Day 1 my steps have been ordered,” said Onobun, who admitted he hadn’t gotten much sleep in the 24 hours since being selected. “I’m just thankful. You never know until it happens. Everyone in my family was ecstatic and overjoyed.”
Onobun said that his decision to forgo a professional basketball career was not an easy one and that he and his family approached last season with caution.
“We had been through so much (last year), from deciding to give football a shot to trying to get enrolled in school, learning the game and (risking) injuries,” he said. “It was well worth it. I looked at my dad and just saw relief in his eyes.”
While he is eager to show off his athletic ability on the football field, Onobun, who before last season hadn’t played organized football since eighth grade, says he hasn’t quite planned out what kind of dunk to throw down on the goal post following his first professional touchdown.
“I’m not that far yet,” he said with a smile. “I’m just trying to learn the game, learn the system and take it a day at a time. I’m just ready to get to work.”