The Washington Post

A.J. Francis signs with Miami Dolphins, gets engaged on same day

(Courtesy @AJFrancis410)

A professional deal, a new home and an engagement, all in the time it takes most people to do their laundry? Now that’s a Saturday for the ages.

As Radio City Music Hall sped through the NFL draft’s final day, teams began calling A.J. Francis during rounds six and seven. But his name never appeared on the television. Teams either mined other positions or selected alternative offensive and defensive linemen, players Francis had “played against [at Maryland] or beat up on” during practices for the East-West Shrine all-star game.

“Eight or nine” eventually reached out, offering Francis free agent deals to come to their city, to play for their team. Caught in that bittersweet moment, between the sting of going undrafted and the thrill of deciding his future, the former Maryland defensive lineman picked the Miami Dolphins.

Francis, a four-year starter in College Park who earned all-ACC honorable mention in 2012, spent this winter near South Beach, training at Bommarito Performance Systems, operating under a strict organic diet and grueling schedule with regular 6 a.m. wakeup calls. Signing with the Dolphins offered familiarity, both with the personnel and the surrounding area.

“It’s good to know that I’m down there, able to get to the facility, the whole area. I know what I’m doing,” Francis said Monday by phone.

Any brief annoyance Francis felt at being passed over quickly subsided. Later Saturday, friends and family threw him an early birthday party. He knew rookie minicamp, held May 3-5, would preclude him from a day-of celebration.

And one hour after accepting Miami’s offer, Francis whipped out a ring and proposed to Tatiana Uruburo, his girlfriend for more than two years.

She said yes.

“Just the biggest day of my life,” Francis said.

It really wouldn’t be an A.J. Francis story without the accompanying tweets. After all, he wound up on Sports Illustrated’s Twitter 100 for a reason. So as Francis re-packs his bags for Miami, it’s only fitting that he tell the story in his own words, 140 characters at a time.








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