The Oakland Raiders have signed fifth-round draft pick Neiron Ball, the team’s official website announced Thursday.
The Raiders have now signed seven of its 10 draft picks, with second-round pick Mario Edwards Jr., third-rounder Clive Walford and seventh-rounder Dexter McDonald yet to ink deals.
Ball, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker out of Florida, was selected 161st overall by the Raiders. He played in 45 games for the Gators, starting 16.
During his time in Gainesville, Ball totaled 94 tackles, three sacks, one interception, four passes defensed, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
Last season he notched 49 tackles and two sacks as a senior for the Gators.
Head coach Jack Del Rio feels Ball has the athletic ability of NFL linebacker, but has to overcome a difficult injury history, including a hereditary condition that required brain surgery and forced him to miss the entire 2011 season.
Congrats goes out to former Gators Linebacker Neiron Ball for being selected by the Oakland Raiders with the 161st pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Ball played in 45 games for the Gators, mostly as a special teamer early, racking up 94 career tackles, 3 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries.
Ball is famous among Gator fans for his terrific story of perseverance and toughness. Ball lost his mother at the age of 6 on Mother’s day from a heart attack, and his father at the age of 9 due to a seizure while fighting lung cancer. And on Valentine’s Day 2011, Ball was admitted to the hospital while in tremendous pain due to bleeding in the brain from a rare condition that causes tangles in the blood vessels and the possibility of rupturing (arteriovenous malformation (AVM)). He was unsure if he was going to live, let alone ever play football again.
But he made a full recovery, and here he is, being selected in the 5th round of the NFL Draft. Congratulations Neiron.