Aziz Shittu admitted disappointment in not hearing his name called in the final rounds of the NFL draft Saturday.
The phone of the Buhach Colony High School alum and Stanford defensive lineman was buzzing with teams that might take him with their final picks right until it was over, but he never got disheartened.
While teams were considering how they might use their final picks, they were negotiating with Shittu’s agent about bringing him in as an undrafted free agent. So while one dream didn’t come to fruition, the much bigger one remained alive as Shittu agreed to a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles not 10 minutes after the draft ended.
“I watched pretty much the whole draft,” Shittu said. “I still had hope that I might get drafted in the last round, but I knew even if I didn’t that I still had plenty of options. The Eagles are one of the teams that showed the most interest in me throughout the whole process.
“I talked with them and my agent and just really liked the situation and my opportunity to go into training camp and try and make the team.”
In his initial conversations with the Eagles’ coaches, Shittu said they envisioned him as an interior lineman, but one of his more desirable traits is his versatility, so he could play in several spots. He said he’ll fly to Philadelphia this week for a rookie minicamp. Then, because of NCAA rules, he won’t be allowed to do anything with the team until he graduates in June.
The Eagles get a 6-foot-3, 279-pound athlete who can play anywhere on the defensive line and probably hasn’t realized his full potential. Shittu didn’t play much his first two years at Stanford and had his junior season cut short when he tore his meniscus in the fifth game.
Shittu made up for lost time last season, recording 57 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss and four sacks to earn an All-Pacific-12 Conference first-team honor. He then shined on the national stage, earning the Rose Bowl Defensive MVP honor after recording 10 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and 3 1/2 tackles for a loss against Iowa.
Seven Cardinal players were drafted or signed as a free agent over the weekend. Shittu, again proving to be the consummate teammate, sent out congratulations via his Twitter account as his former teammates moved off the board.
Shittu became the third player with local ties to sign with an NFL team in four years. He joins Merced College alum John Lotulelei (linebacker, Oakland Raiders) and Mariposa High alum Cody Wichmann (guard, Los Angeles Rams).
“I would have liked to have been drafted, but ultimately, all I was looking for was an opportunity to earn a spot on an NFL team,” Shittu said. “The Eagles have given that to me, and now it’s up to me to take it.
“I came to Stanford to get a degree and to give myself a chance to play in the NFL. If things go well, I might get to achieve both this summer.”