Tight end first Flyer player to be drafted in 43 years

Archdeacon: Draft night with Flyers’ Trautman, his parents, teammates and ‘visitors’

He’s never been to New Orleans before so he hasn’t experienced Mardi Gras, but Adam Trautman got a little taste of it around midnight Friday in the house he and his younger brother Alec have been renting this spring in a neighborhood just north of the University of Dayton campus near the old Fairgrounds.

His parents, Rod and Lori, had come down from northern Michigan and were there, too.

A tray of mostly ignored lasagna was on the stove. The TV was turned to ESPN and Adam was on a Zoom chat with some of his Flyers football buddies – especially the offensive lineman who call themselves The Hogs.

They were part of a larger group of UD players all encamped at a house across the street, many of them on the porch where they’d moved some of living room furniture.

It was the second night of the NFL draft and Trautman – who most experts said was the second best tight end in this year’s selection pool – was still available with just a couple of picks left in Round 3.

After that the NFL would shut the draft down until Saturday noon.

While Trautman admits he was feeling a little stressed seeing a couple of other tight ends get picked before him, his buddies across the street were still having a good time.

“How should I say this?” Rod chuckled. “Aaah…they were doing their best at social distancing — and they weren’t allowed in our house – but I know they had some ‘visitors’ stop by to ask them to hold down the noise a bit.

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“The second time the ‘visitors’ came, they mentioned being quiet, but then they were like, ‘So is he drafted yet?’”

That question was answered about a minute before midnight when Trautman’s cell phone rang and he saw the 504 area code.

New Orleans!

The Saints had just traded the four draft picks they had left to the Minnesota Vikings, who were set to make that second-to-last pick in Round 3 and the 105th overall selection.

New Orleans had Trautman listed as one of the 40 top players in the entire draft and it was determined to get the 6-foot-5, 255-pound tight end in a helmet with the iconic fleur de lis on the side.

Trautman was sitting on the couch in a blue Flyers sweatshirt when the call came and as he began listening, he shook his fist in glee. His Zoom buddies saw what was happening and within seconds they had swarmed across the street. Guys were pounding on the windows and the door as they cheered.

“When I was talking to the GM and the head coach and assistant GM they were banging on the windows and yelling,” Trautman laughed. “They were pretty wild, but that’s just part of the great support I get here.”

The Hogs and all the rest of them can be excused for their over-amped response.

Dayton hadn’t had a player drafted into the NFL since it became a non-scholarship program in 1978.

The last UD draft pick was tackle Bill Westbeld, an 11th-round selection by the Seattle Seahawks in 1977.

And the last Flyers to actually play in a regular season NFL game were tackles Bob DeMarco of the Los Angeles Rams and Mike Wilson with Kansas City, both in 1975.

Trautman became the 43rd Dayton Flyer selected in the NFL draft, although most of them were in the 1950s and 1960s when the program held NCAA Division I status.

The best know Flyer in the NFL was Hall of Famer Chuck Noll, who played with the Cleveland Browns and then coached the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl titles

At present, four NFL coaches have UD connections. Jon Gruden, a former Flyers backup quarterback, is the Las Vegas Raiders head coach and one of his assistants is Austin King, who coached the Flyers a couple of years past. Former player Brandon Staley is the Rams defensive coordinator and former UD assistant Joe Lombardi now coaches the Saints’ quarterbacks.

“We at least have our fingers in the NFL” is the way UD head coach Rick Chamberlin put it the other day.

And now the Flyers have a great set of hands there as well thanks to Trautman.

He was a consensus FCS All-American this past season and he holds UD’s career records in receptions (178), receiving yards (2,295) and TD catches (31).

While he admitted he was “fully anticipating being the second one off the board, that was all the chatter I heard,” he said he was elated to have fallen into the lap of the Saints.

North tight end Adam Trautman of Dayton (84) warms up before the start of the Senior Bowl college football game Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Photo: columnist

He’s headed to one of the NFL’s premier organizations. The Saints won the Super Bowl in 2009, went 13-4 last season and are led by Drew Brees, one of the most prolific quarterbacks in NFL history.

He’s joining a team where several of the coaches are familiar with UD. Lombardi was on the Flyers staff from 1996-98, Head coach Sean Payton coached at Miami University in 1994-95. Strength coach Dan Dalrymple played at Miami and was the RedHawks’ strength coach for 17 years and Rob Wenning, the Saints assistant strength coach, is from Coldwater.

Because of the COVID-19 shutdowns, Trautman won’t head to New Orleans until a later date. He will continue to work out here with his brother and get online instruction from the Saints.

When the season does begin, his buddies back here already have plans.

“They looked at the schedule and said, ‘Oh yeah, you’re coming into Chicago to play the Bears and you’ll be in Detroit, too!’” Rod said laughing. “And they said, ‘Hey, we got Mardi Gras down there!’”

They’ve already shown they’ll fit right into that.

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