Maples could get NFL call this weekend

Former Army running back Raymond Maples is receiving interest from the Packers, Seahawks and Raiders prior to tonight’s NFL draft, according to his agent Scott Bergman.

Bergman said he expects Maples to receive calls this weekend, offering the two-time 1,000-yard Army rusher an opportunity to attend rookie mini-camp.

As of 7 a.m. Thursday morning, Maples was granted permission by his base commander at Ft. Benning for leave to participate in a mini-camp, Bergman said.

Maples, who turns 24 on May 18, graduated from West Point in December after returning for fifth season at Army. Past players have been required to serve two years of active duty before applying for a release to pursue the NFL.

“This is happening very fast,” Bergman said. “There was a lot of misconceptions going on with the NFL and him. He’s definitely somebody the NFL teams have been seeking out. However, they believed that he had his 2-year commitment so he’s not going to be interested.

“He never really spoke out on his own to let them know, ‘Hey I can try to get an exception. If you are interested in me, I will try to get an exception.’ That never translated out there and they dropped him as a result. I corrected that 48 hours ago. I got the teams putting him back on the boards as available.”

Former Army quarterback Trent Steelman, a four-year starter (2009-2012), was granted an early release from active duty as maintenance platoon leader at Hunter Airfield in Savannah, Ga., before Christmas.

The next step for Maples would be asking for an early release if he is offered a contract by an NFL team.

“They (The Army and Ft. Benning) are going to give him (Maples) a limited exception right now,” Bergman said. “That’s not giving him permission to play in NFL. They are giving him permission to leave the base and go to mini-camp and see how that rolls. If they offer him a contract, I will have him sign it and it’s going to be contingent on him getting a release from his duties to play in the NFL. The only concern is the Middle East is heating back up.”

Bergman said he’s spoken with a few contacts at Ft. Benning and, “they can see (the Army) giving him an exception because he would be good in marketing for the Army.”

Maples, a slotback, was limited to 44 carries (270 yards and three touchdowns) in 2014 as Army went to a fullback-heavy triple-option offense under first-year coach Jeff Monken. He carried the ball four times for 13 yards as a reserve fullback in his final game as a Black Knight against Navy in December.

During his 1,000-yard seasons in 2011 (1,066) and 2012 (1,215), Maples was an effective runner inside the tackles. He played in just three games in 2013 due to a leg injury suffered against Stanford in a September game.

The Packers have expressed the most interest in Maples. Bergman said he was contacted by Packers Thursday morning.

“The Packers (scout) admitted that he’s been watching him his whole career and even used the word ‘obsessed’ with him,” Bergman said. “(The scout said), ‘We can utilize him on our format up here. You know that we are cold weather.’”

Bergman said if NFL teams knew about Maples’ availability a few months ago, he may have been selected with the draft’s seven rounds.

NFL scouts attended Army practices throughout Maples’ career to watch the running back.

“Anything can happen. I don’t know what will happen. I could be completely off base here and I’m never comfortable telling a client that they are going to get the call that they are going to get drafted…With that said, I’m finding these teams are interested and the Packers are a little extra aggressive than what I normally see…

“We at least have a foot in the door to allow him to get out, go to a team and fight for a position and then the base commander was like, ‘We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.’ At least, it’s good news that we can get him out and do this. Now, he’ll have a shot and I’m going to continue speaking with the military and try to keep him going forward with this.”

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

 

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    Sal Interdonato

    Award-winning writer Sal Interdonato has been on the Army football beat since 2007. He'll take you inside the huddle and into the lives of the Black Knights. Read Full

    Justin Fedich

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