SAN ANTONIO – Former University of the Incarnate Word football players Joe Zema and Jamari Gilbert have both accepted invitations to attend rookie minicamps.
Punter Joe Zema will attend New York Jets camp this week and Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie camp next week.
“Go, punt well and the rest will take care of itself, I think,” Zema said.
Zema, a Melbourne native, worked with ProKick Australia, a training academy to help guide Australian athletes to performing at the college/NFL level. In his one and only college football season, Zema led the FCS with an average of 46.7 yards per punt. He set the program record for longest punt in his first collegiate game, with a 75-yard kick at Fresno State.
“Yeah, good. It’s sort of a quick,” he said when asked about this next step in his football career. “Thinking about my first game of college and it’s already May, and I’m already doing all this good stuff. It’s a really good opportunity and I’m pleased and happy to go get them and show my best.”
Jamari Gilbert, a 6-foot-2 wide receiver for UIW, accepted a rookie camp invitation from the Seattle Seahawks, but will change positions to cornerback. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll has a knack for switching guys to cornerback. Gilbert has the size and speed Carroll likes.
“It’s a great opportunity. I’ve always dreamed of playing for the NFL,” Gilbert said, flashing a huge smile. “To give me this opportunity, you know, one shot is all I needed. I was praying just one out of 32 teams will give me a chance and now that I got a chance, I really want to take control of it.”
Gilbert is from Baytown, Texas, which is near Houston. He is another in a long line of Texans to get a shot in the NFL.
“We are known for deep South Texas football and producing great players,” he said. “I’m just happy to be one of the ones selected to go to the NFL this year.”
NFL rookie minicamps start this week.