So much for the assurance he had signed with the Bears. ************* Posted on Thu, Jul. 15, 2004 NFL to come later for Sooner By Lorne Chan Star-Telegram Staff Writer Former Oklahoma All-American safety Brandon Everage is looking for work. Though Everage was a four-time All-Big 12 selection and helped the Sooners win the national championship in 2000, the 6-foot, 205-pound Granger native was not selected in the 2004 NFL Draft. He was not signed as a free agent, either. "It's been a dream to play in the NFL," Everage said. "I just love the game of football, and I'll play for whatever." Shoulder injuries and legal issues have kept teams from taking a chance on Everage. He had rotator cuff surgery on his left shoulder in February, and he's been arrested three times in the past four years. The citations range from driving with a suspended license and an open container of alcohol to a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. He was found not guilty of the drug charge. Once projected as a second- or third-round draft pick, Everage watched as 18 safeties were selected among the 255 choices. After the draft, when teams sign an average of 20 free agents each from colleges, Everage never received a call from an NFL team. "People are selective injury-wise and character-wise in the draft," said former Cowboys player personnel director Gil Brandt, now a draft analyst for NFL.com. "Everybody has become very character conscious. Unless it's a great player, do you want to take on a problem? I think people shy away from that." So for now, Everage drives around Oklahoma City in a borrowed car while his cousin and agent, Mike Lartigue, pays the bills. Lartigue said teams did not take Everage because he was still recovering from surgery in the spring and couldn't make it to any of the pro workouts or timing days. "You're allowed to bring 85 people to camp, and I don't know why anybody would want to use one of those 85 slots [on Everage] if they haven't seen him," Brandt said. "Teams don't draft a lot of safeties, because you can move a corner to safety, but you can't move a safety to any other place because they don't have the same ability. "But for him to start at Oklahoma, he must be doing something right." Everage, who drives his brother's Chevy Tahoe to workouts in Norman, said he is healthy and has been cleared by his doctors to play football again. Everage has workouts scheduled in the next two weeks with Oakland, San Francisco, Buffalo and Atlanta. The NFL rookie minimum salary is $230,000 a year. "We'll go on his tour, and hopefully it won't be too long because one of the first teams will sign him," Lartigue said. Lartigue said he talked to the Cowboys in the spring about Everage and was told to call back when Everage was healthy. Lartigue plans to contact the Cowboys next week, when team officials return from vacation. "I would like to reunite with my good buddy Roy Williams," Everage said of his former Sooners teammate. "It would be a great thing for me since I learned a lot from him and followed his lead." Everage has a reputation on the field as a reckless hitter. He earned first-team American Football Coaches Association All-America honors in 2002 after finishing with 94 tackles and six interceptions. But the hits took their toll on Everage's shoulders, and after the 2002 season he had surgery on his right shoulder. Everage decided not to go pro after his junior season because of the surgery and attempted to obtain an insurance policy from Lloyd's of London. Because he had just had surgery, Everage said he was not granted a policy. Everage recovered, but in a game against Missouri midway through the 2003 season, he heard a snap in his left shoulder while making a hit. He sat out only one play and finished the game with eight tackles. Everage said doctors told him afterward that he tore his rotator cuff. Everage said his family, friends and many coaches advised him to get surgery, but he wanted to "try to be a warrior on the field for my team," he said. At times he couldn't lift his arm, but Everage kept playing, finishing the season with 60 tackles and one interception. "He meant so much to our program for so long we couldn't take him off the field," said Arizona coach Mike Stoops, then Oklahoma's defensive coordinator. "We probably left him out for too long in a lot of situations, but he did everything we ever asked of him the whole time he was there." Everage remains hopeful he'll get an opportunity with an NFL team and said he is being voluntarily tested for drugs every two weeks. "I know I have a lot to prove, that all the off-field problems have passed by me," Everage said. "I will do everything I can to help a team that wants to sign me."