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Published: 5/2/2006

BGSU's Pope, Sharon, Sanders get a chance

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - Three more former Bowling Green State University football players will get their chance to make an NFL team.

Running back P.J. Pope and wide receivers Charles Sharon and Steve Sanders signed free-agent contracts with NFL teams Sunday night after the draft concluded. Pope signed with the Chicago Bears, Sharon with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Sanders with the Cleveland Browns.

Pope is the only BGSU player to rush for 3,000 yards and have 1,000 yards receiving in a career. He was on the All-Mid-American Conference team his sophomore and junior seasons, but was injured most of his senior year, finishing with 436 yards rushing and 173 receiving.

Pope played in the Hula Bowl, and said he received some attention after he performed well at BGSU's pro day in March. He will leave Thursday for Chicago to participate in the team's mini-camp this weekend.

"This being an injury year, I already knew my chances were going to be tough [to get drafted]," Pope said. "They have a nice stable of running backs. I'm just going to try to go in, and just practice hard."

Sharon, the Falcons' all-time leading receiver, will travel about an hour north from his hometown of Palatka, Fla. Sanders, from East Cleveland, will have even less travel time to report to the Browns' camp next weekend.

Sharon finished as the leader in several offensive categories, including receiving yards (3,450) and touchdowns (34). He's the only BGSU receiver to have two 1,000-yard seasons. Sharon will report to Jacksonville on May 11.

"I know they have some great receivers," Sharon said. "I'll try to do the same thing I've been doing. I was just looking for an opportunity, and I got it."

Sanders led the Falcons with 14 receiving touchdowns in 2005 and had 855 receiving yards.

"It has always been a dream of mine to play football in the NFL for the hometown team," Sanders said.

Contact Maureen Fulton at:

mfulton@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Former Central Michigan quarterback Kent Smith, a graduate of Start High School, has signed a free-agent deal with the Oakland Raiders.

He will report to Oakland on Thursday for a three-day mini-camp that begins Friday.

Smith, a two-year starter, holds or shares eight school records for passing or total offense. He completed a school-record 255 passes for 2,799 yards and 16 touchdowns and ran for 433 yards and seven scores in 2005. He threw for at least 300 yards four times last season, including a school-record 460 yards on 46-of-70 passing at Western Michigan on Nov. 12.



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