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NFL draft: Roehl, Wurzbacher lead signees, invitees

Tyler Roehl remembers sitting in an assembly when he first got to West Fargo High School as a ninth-grader. He remembers the principal saying his class will be the first to produce a professional athlete.

A decade later, those words rang true. Roehl signed a free agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks Sunday night becoming the first player from West Fargo to reach the NFL.

"I think it's awesome," said West Fargo head coach Jay Gibson. "Tyler always wanted to be the best guy on the field and it didn't matter if it was a Tuesday practice or a Friday game. He wanted to be the best guy out there."

Roehl's signing was part of a busy day for former North Dakota State players.

Tight end Jerimiah Wurzbacher signed as a free agent with the San Diego Chargers. Although not the first from Fargo South to do so, it's a rare feat nonetheless.

Five years ago, Wurzbacher and Roehl both signed letters of intent at NDSU, almost like a package deal.

"If you would have told us this five years ago, I don't think either of us would have believed it would have come true," Roehl said.

Roehl said former NDSU assistant coach Casey Bradley, now the defensive coordinator with the Seahawks, was a big help. The two talked Sunday about the opportunity and what the Seahawks are looking for. It was almost a déjà vu situation.

"He recruited me to NDSU and he recruited me to Seattle as well," Roehl said.

Both players have a lot of work ahead of them to make the final cuts. Helping Wurzbacher is his ability to be a backup long snapper, something the Chargers scout who was at NDSU's "pro day" took note.

Wurzbacher talked with San Diego's tight ends coach Rob Chudzinski on Sunday night, who told Wurzbacher the team is looking for a third string tight end as well as a backup long snapper.

"This was a good opportunity to pick my team and find the best opportunity," Wurzbacher said.

The opportunity is also there for three other Bison who signed free agent deals. Receiver Kole Heckendorf signed with Green Bay while defensive lineman Joe Lardinois was invited to the Packer rookie camp for a tryout. Linebacker Ramon Humber was signed by the Indianapolis Colts. Counting safety Nick Schommer who was drafted by the Tennessee Titans, six NDSU players got NFL attention on Sunday.

"Wow," Wurzbacher said. "A lot of NDSU players."

And one Packer.

"I'm not coaching in some big city and we're getting the best kids and every year we're sending them to Florida or Florida State," Gibson said. "That's not our goal. But it's a great story and a really neat deal. I'm happy for Tyler because it's something he really wants."