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.

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

 

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

Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher remembers the late Darryl Rudolph, the father of former Seminoles star receiver, Travis Rudolph, as being a hard-working, supportive parent whose children were his life.

“Just great family,” Fisher said today, hours before he was leaving to attend Thursday’s NFL draft in Philadelphia.

“Parents … mom, dad were involved in their kid’s life. They were at everything he did. They supported him. Just a typical, loving, close, very hard-working, blue-collar, just really good family. Raised him tremendously well. A lot of respect from him to them and them to him.

“Their kids were the focal point of their life.”

Darryl Rudolph was killed late Friday while doing handyman work in the backroom of Sugar Daddy’s Adult Cabaret in West Palm Beach. The incident occurred one week before Travis is expected to be selected in the NFL draft. Travis, who was raised in West Palm Beach and starred at Cardinal Newman High School, decided to skip his senior year at FSU and enter the draft after being the Noles’ most productive receiver over the last three years.

Darryl, 55, was struck in the back/neck area by a gunshot from an adjacent room that penetrated the wall. The gun, which law enforcement sources told The Post was a rifle, discharged when a coworker was moving the firearm off a shelf. Darryl was not a full-time employee of the club but was hired occasionally to do handyman jobs.

On Tuesday, Paul Senat, 36, of Lantana was arrested and charged with Darryl’s shooting death by Palm Beach County sheriff’s detectives.

Fisher was with Travis at an on-campus event in the Champions Club on Friday hours before the incident. Travis had left Tallahassee when Fisher attempted to contact him.

“At first you didn’t believe it,” said Fisher, who has spoken with Travis’ mom, Linda. “It was shock. Travis is ready to fulfill his dream (of being drafted). His dad is getting to watch him do it. I had to just sit down for a minute and say ‘Oh my God.’

“Then my thoughts went to him and his wife and everything else, Travis and the family.”

Fisher, who spent time in the Rudolph home when recruiting Travis, said the university is ready to support Travis in any way necessary.

“He’s part of our family and we’ll do everything we can to help,” Fisher said. “Travis is going to have a great career. He’s going to come back and finish his degree. Anything we can humanly do to help them and the family get through a tough time … anything they want us to do and anything we can do.”

Fisher says he is “heartbroken” not only by Darry’s death but the timing. Travis, 21, concludes his career 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.

Rudolph was named second-team All-ACC in 2016 and was one of 11 recipients of the Extraordinary Sportsmanship award at the Musial Awards. Last summer, when visiting a Tallahassee middle school with his teammates, Rudolph spotted an autistic student who was eating alone and sat down and dined with the boy.

Rudolph, 6-foot, 189 pounds, is projected to be taken on the third day of draft, anywhere from the fifth to seventh round. He is ranked anywhere from the 30th to 40th best receiver in the draft.

Fisher believes scouts are putting too much emphasis on his 40 time (4.65) rather than his production.

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

“You go back and watch our film, there’s a lot of long touchdown throws and catches and runs after (the catch). Like he did against Florida this year. There’s a lot of plays like that.”

Travis scored on a 46-yard catch-and-run from Deondre Francois that gave FSU a 17-6 lead over the Gators, the 18th and final touchdown reception of his career. The Seminoles went on to a 31-13 victory.

Fisher also praised Travis’ downfield blocking skills and his intelligence.

“He’s a very multi-talented receiver because he can go in and out to catch the ball,” Fisher said. “He’s just a really good athlete and he understands. Travis is really smart.”

Rudolph’s agents sent an email to all NFL teams saying that, despite the tragedy, Rudolph remained intent on pursuing his pro football aspirations.