Travis Rudolph signs free-agent deal with Giants after going undrafted

The father of former FSU star receiver Travis Rudolph was shot and killed last Friday. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

With ESPN cameras in his West Palm Beach home ready to capture what would have been the crowning achievement of his athletic career, Travis Rudolph sat through nearly seven hours of the NFL Draft on Saturday without hearing his name called.

The former Cardinal Newman and Florida State star who left the Seminoles after his junior season to enter the draft, was projected to be selected in the fifth or sixth round. But he watched as 32 other receivers were taken over the course of three days and seven rounds.

Following the draft, the 6-foot, 189-pound Rudolph agreed to a free-agent deal with the New York Giants. Rudolph’s agent, Jonathan Herbst, confirmed the deal in an email to The Post.

Cameras caught Rudolph surrounded by family and friends throughout the day, one of those being Bo Paske, the autistic student who Rudolph joined last summer during a visit to his middle school while Paske was dining alone. That act gained national attention for both Rudolph and Bo and earned Rudolph widespread praise.

Rudolph was watching the draft with a heavy heart. His father, Darryl Rudolph, was killed April 21 while doing handyman work in the backroom of a West Palm Beach club. Darryl, 55, was struck in the back/neck area by a gunshot from an adjacent room that penetrated the wall, according to authorities. The gun, identified as an AK-47 style rifle, discharged when a coworker was moving the firearm off a shelf, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office report.

Paul Senat, 36, of Lantana, part-owner of Sugar Daddy’s Adult Cabaret, was arrested and charged with manslaughter on Tuesday.

>> Exclusive: FSU coach Jimbo Fisher recalls Darryl Rudolph as supportive, hard-working, family man

Rudolph concluded his career at Florida State seventh in school history with 153 receptions and eighth with 2,311 receiving yards after leading the Seminoles with 56 catches, 840 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns last season.

He was ranked from the 27th to 37th best receiver in the draft by draft experts. Just six receivers were taken in the first two rounds before a run started with 20 coming off the board in rounds 3 through 5. Then after a lull in round 6 (one was taken), five more heard their names called in the final round, including Isaiah Ford of Virginia Tech, who went to the Dolphins with the 238 overall pick.

The knock on Rudolph is his speed and quickness. He ran a 4.65 40 yard dash at the NFL combine. Just four of the 51 receivers who ran the 40 had a slower time.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher believes too much emphasis was put on the stop watch and not his production.

“He can run the route tree, he has good size,” Fisher said prior to the draft. “He’s not a blazer but he’s fast. And if you watch he makes big plays.”

Despite misgivings some had about Rudolph entering the draft a year early, he told The Post in March that he had received good feedback from NFL representatives.

“Basically teams evaluate ‘How do you learn?’ ‘Are you a route-runner?’ ‘Are you disciplined in your route running?’ ‘Do you turn your head or do you keep your eyes on the ball when you’re catching it?’” Rudolph said. “Little stuff like that.”

Rudolph, who trained in West Palm Beach and Tallahassee leading up to the draft, added: “I’ve been taking it in daily. That’s my childhood dream to make it to the NFL.”

That dream is not over. But after not hearing his named called this weekend, the path to reaching his dream will have to begin in a different way than the one he had hoped.

Four-star recruit pranks both Florida and Florida State on National Signing Day

Jimbo Fisher
Jimbo Fisher

In a move that had a pair of Florida fan bases smiling, and then shaking a fist, Levi Jones’ National Signing Day trick has generated a serious buzz on social media.

Jones, a four-star recruit listed as the 65th best player in the 2017 recruiting class by ESPN, announced his college commitment during a ceremony at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday morning. Jones stood up from the podium and unzipped a jacket to reveal a Florida Gators shirt.

Before Gators fans could begin celebrating their newest signee, Jones told the cheering crowd, “Y’all better chill,” before taking off the UF shirt and revealing a Florida State shirt underneath.

OK, Levi, you got us.

As the crowd audibly gasped, the 6’3” recruit then took off the Seminoles shirt to reveal a third and final shirt, this time indicating his commitment to the USC Trojans with the shirt and the school’s signature phrase, “Fight on.”

Jones, the nation’s fourth-ranked outside linebacker according to ESPN, joins what is clearly a top-10 USC recruiting class.

Despite getting stood up by Jones, both Florida State and Florida also have fared well on National Signing Day.

Top 2016 QB recruit Malik Henry to transfer from Florida State

Malik Henry
Malik Henry

Malik Henry’s Florida State career is over almost before it started after the former top recruit announced his intention to transfer from the university.

In a statement given to 247sports.com on Monday, Henry thanked Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher and the staff at Florida State for the opportunity they provided him, while also expressing his interest in transferring.

“I wish him and the team nothing but success,” Henry told 247sports.com. “At this time I don’t know what university I will be attending in the future.”

The California native was a highly touted four-star recruit out of high school, ranked by Rivals.com as the second best dual-threat quarterback in the 2016 recruiting class and the 34th best prospect overall. He committed to Florida State over Auburn, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan and a host of other suitors, enrolling early at FSU in January of 2016.

Henry had a turbulent tenure at FSU. He was suspended in August for a violation of team rules before being reinstated a month later. Despite the reinstatement, he ended up redshirting his freshman season behind quarterbacks Deondre Francois, Sean Maguire and J.J. Cosentino.

The only game action that Henry saw during his time at FSU was during the spring game, where he completed 15 of 22 attempted passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns.

The Seminoles currently have two verbal commitments from quarterbacks in the 2017 class, four-star recruit James Blackman and three-star recruit Bailey Hockman. After Francois’ impressive freshman season, it appears that the starting job is his to lose.

Hurricane Matthew alters Florida State’s travel plans before UM game

Deondre Francois #12 of the Florida State Seminoles talks to his offense before a play during the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Doak Campbell Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Gammons/Getty Images)
Deondre Francois #12 of the Florida State Seminoles talks to his offense before a play during the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Doak Campbell Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Gammons/Getty Images)

It’s not as if Miami fans were rolling out the red carpet to begin with, but Hurricane Matthew has made Florida State’s Miami entrance more challenging.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the Florida State football team was planning on arriving in Miami on Thursday in advance of their highly anticipated rivalry matchup with the Miami Hurricanes, but the hurricane has derailed those plans.

Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher announced on Wednesday that the team would likely not travel on Thursday in an attempt to avoid the storm, which made landfall along Florida’s east coast Thursday afternoon and evening and may linger until Friday afternoon.

Despite little threat to Miami-Dade County, the Seminoles are being cautious with their travel plans, pushing back their regular schedule for a Saturday game. Fisher told the Tallahassee Democrat that the team will attempt to travel on Friday instead.

There has been no indication that the game will be postponed or moved, and both universities and their officials continue to monitor Matthew’s movement.

If, for some unforeseen reason, the game does need to be postponed, it would not be the first time a hurricane would have affected a matchup between the two schools. In 2004, Hurricane Frances forced the schools to reschedule their season-opening game from a Monday night to a Friday night.

In that 2004 game, the fifth-ranked Hurricanes defeated the No. 4 Seminoles 16-10 in a game that went to overtime. The game also marked the Miami Hurricanes’ first game as a member of the ACC.

With the win in 2004, the Hurricanes extended their win streak over the Seminoles to six games, the same number of consecutive wins that the Seminoles currently have over the Hurricanes.

Read more at the Tallahassee Democrat.