The 2020 NFL Draft was conducted virtually from April 23 to 25. In January, wide receiver Michael Dereus (COL ’19) and senior defensive lineman Khristian Tate declared their intentions to play in the NFL. The NFL’s free agency period began on April 25, allowing teams to sign undrafted free agents to compete for a 53-man roster spot at team camp. After the draft’s seven rounds passed and neither player was selected, Dereus announced via Instagram that he had signed as an undrafted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens.
Dereus graduated from Georgetown University in December with a degree in government. After graduating, he relocated to Orlando, Fla., to sharpen his skills and prepare for the draft. Since Georgetown is not a Football Bowl Subdivision team, it does not have its own Pro Day, but this does not inhibit its players from sharing their skills with NFL scouts. Dereus had DME Sports Academy film his skills to share with NFL teams. Pro Days typically occur in March and April and allow NFL coaches to travel the country and visit historically strong football programs in pursuit of new talent.
Referred to as “Mookie” by his Hoya teammates, Dereus had a major impact on Georgetown’s football program during his four years on the Hilltop. In 2019, he was an All-Patriot League First Team selection, his second career all-conference award. He ranks seventh in Georgetown’s history with 115 career receptions and fifth in both receiving yards and yards per catch. Dereus was also a consistent touchdown threat for the Hoyas, as his 15 career touchdowns are tied for fifth for most career touchdown receptions in Georgetown’s history. He finished the most recent season with 41 receptions for a team-high 726 yards, averaging 17.7 yards per catch. He also tied for the team lead for most touchdown receptions with five on the season.
When he reflected on his time on the Hilltop and his transition into his next chapter, Dereus praised Georgetown’s coaching staff for making him the athlete he is today. He credited Offensive Coordinator Rob Spence for his success.
“I am so excited to have this opportunity to continue my dream of playing professional football. So many people have played a role in getting me to this point and I have to first and foremost thank my family and my coaches at Georgetown,” Dereus said in an interview with GUHoyas. “When Coach Spence came in, he held an expectation for us to study and play like pros. The way we ran our offense as well as the way he taught us how to learn an offense will be one of many skills I bring with me to Baltimore.”
Head Coach Rob Sgarlata (COL ’94, GRD ’12) praised Dereus for his contributions to the Hoyas during his college career.
“Over the past four years, Mookie has dedicated himself to excellence on and off of the field as a member of the Hoya football family. He is the ultimate competitor and has worked very hard to continually improve and maximize his God-given talents,” Sgarlata said in an interview with GUHoyas. “I am extremely excited to see the next step in his athletic journey. I am very grateful to the Baltimore Ravens for providing him with this opportunity.”
Dereus’ signing represents the fourth undrafted NFL free agent contract signed by a Hoya in the last two decades. In 2007, defensive end Alex Buzbee (COL ’07) signed a contract with the Washington, D.C. NFL team and was able to make the team’s roster, representing the first Hoya to make an NFL roster since Jim Ricca (SFS ’51). Buzbee was injured for the majority of his professional career, which inhibited him from seeing action on the field, and was released from the team’s roster in 2009. He spent the rest of his career playing in the Canadian Football League as a member of the Toronto Argonauts for two seasons before retiring from football in 2012.
Linebacker Robert McCabe (MSB ’12) signed as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins in 2012. He did not make the team’s regular-season roster. Defensive end Ataefiok Etukeren (MSB ‘09, L ‘18) also signed with the Buffalo Bills in 2009, but did not make the team’s roster.
Dereus will still have to compete for a spot on the Ravens’ 53-man roster come cuts in September and throughout the summer. Rookies are currently scheduled to begin training with their teams May 11, although this date is subject to change in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and different states’ restrictions on large gatherings, which have suspended most sporting events.