Football

Bradenton's Brian Poole signs with Atlanta Falcons after getting passed over in NFL draft

By ALAN DELL

adell@bradenton.com

Southeast High's Brian Poole warms up his arm during practice in August 2009.HERALD FILE PHOTO
Southeast High's Brian Poole warms up his arm during practice in August 2009.HERALD FILE PHOTO TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE

BRADENTON

Brian Poole sat this weekend with his family and friends, waiting for the call to come.

The NFL has been his dream and seemed to be on the horizon after a stellar career at Southeast High and the University of Florida.

The call never came, at least during the seven rounds of the NFL draft, and Poole could not hide his disappointment.

But things began to pick up shortly after the draft. He received calls from numerous NFL teams wanting to sign to a free-agent contract.

This time, the choice was easy, and Poole signed with the Atlanta Falcons after fielding calls from Arizona, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn had recruited Poole to Florida, was his defensive coordinator there, and Quinn knows all about the versatile defensive back, who can play corner, nickel and safety.

"I knew they were interested in me before the draft, and I felt most comfortable there because of their scheme and coach Quinn," Poole said. "He called me and told me he wanted me to be a part of the Falcons organization.

They see me as a DB and are going to play me at corner and safety and special teams."

While Poole is perplexed about why he wasn't drafted, he is determined it to use it as motivation.

"I have no message to send the other teams, but they are going to see. I am definitely going to use this as motivation. I have no idea what happened," Poole said.

Poole was a five-star recruit out of Southeast, where he doubled as a safety, cornerback and running back and was rated as high as the 25th best high school defensive back in the country.

Paul Maechtle, Poole's head coach at Southeast, said sometimes it's better to sign as a free agent then get drafted in the sixth or seventh round.

"He gets a chance to be in a camp and is with somebody he knows, and that is a plus," Maechtle said "I've been in contact with people at Florida who said he had a nice Pro Day, and his times were better than he ran before. I was hopeful he would get drafted, but different people see different things."

The biggest negative about Poole has been his height, but that might not be so important to Quinn, who was defensive coordinator for Seattle and likes tough physical defensive backs.

"Nowadays, they like those defensive backs to be 6-foot or taller because they are throwing to all those taller receivers, but Brian makes up for his size with his physical play," Maechtle said. The 5-foot-9 Poole started six games as a nickelback his sophomore year and was a regular starter as a junior at both corner and nickel in leading the Gators with four interceptions. He was second on the team with 10 pass breakups.

If Poole sticks with Atlanta, there are several personal bonuses. He will be in the NFC with the Bucs and play at Raymond James Stadium once a season while also going against his former Florida teammate Vernon Hargreaves III.

Alan Dell, Herald sports columnist/writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.

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