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Vobora new Mr. Irrelevant

FOOTBALL: Idaho linebacker, chosen last in NFL Draft by St. Louis Rams, to be honored in June.

April 28, 2008|By Barry Faulkner

It was truly ironic that, as the moment unfolded Sunday at his home in Moscow, Idaho, David Vobora knew the pursuit of his NFL dream would become a reality well before those around him did.

Vobora, who led the University of Idaho in tackles and earned first-team All-Western Athletic Conference recognition the last two seasons, was outside on the patio when the call to his cell phone came through from the St. Louis Rams, telling him they had ended hours of anticipation.

Separated from the assembled family, friends and former teammates by a sliding glass door, Vobora immediately tapped on the glass and pointed toward the television, trying to prompt those inside to brace for the televised announcement from New York made annually by Irrelevant Week founder Paul Salata.

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“They looked at me kind of puzzled,” said Vobora, who seconds later heard the roar from the room that accompanied word he had been the 252nd and last pick in the NFL Draft.

Only moments before, while sitting with his draft-party guests, the topic of Irrelevant Week — a weeklong celebration of the final pick in the NFL Draft begun by Salata, who played receiver at USC and in the NFL before becoming a renowned Newport Beach businessman and philanthropist — was broached by a guest.

“Someone said they thought the last pick go a car,” Vobora said. “So, we Googled it and found out about the Mr. Irrelevant thing. We laughed.”

It wasn’t long ago that Vobora himself, a 6-foot-1, 242-pound outside linebacker, would have laughed at the suggestion that he’d have a chance to make an NFL roster.

A former star at Churchill High in Eugene, Ore., where he played linebacker, running back, quarterback, tight end and wherever else his coaches deemed he could help the team win, Vobora had been tested, but hardly triumphant as a special teams player and outside linebacker for the Vandals.

“I came into Idaho at 195 pounds,” Vobora said. “So, you can imagine that colliding with 300-pound linemen wasn’t always the prettiest outcome for me. My sophomore year, I was pretty frustrated. But Coach [Nick] Holt [then head coach at Idaho who is now the defensive coordinator at USC] told me I was going to be an All-WAC player and I kind of reminded him of Lofa Tatupu [a former USC star who immediately became a standout linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks upon entering the NFL]. He said I was going to be a stud.”

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