Despite not getting drafted, a pair of area offensive linemen will be a chance to prove their worth in the National Football League after signing undrafted free agent contracts.
South Dakota Mines senior offensive tackle Jack Batho IV signed with the Atlanta Falcons and former Pine Ridge resident and University of New Mexico offensive tackle Teton Saltes.
He didn't get his name called in the NFL Draft, but Batho quickly was contacted by the Falcons and joined the team via a free agent contract.
"I'm blessed for the opportunity and happy to be part of such a renowned organization," Batho told the Journal Saturday night. "Some of the better talks I had came from the Falcons. I'm ready to head to Atlanta in 11 days and show them what I can do."
Batho, a 6-foot-8 308-pounder from Omaha,, Neb., was able to participate in the Hula Bowl Jan. 31 in Honolulu, and Thursday he went through some drills in his Pro Day at O'Harra Stadium in front of scouts from the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions.
"It is a humbling experience, and it is really an honor to bring that opportunity to our school, having the ability to bring some scouts in and hopefully be that first stepping stone to get some more guys chances in the future," Batho said after his pro day. "If nothing else happens from this, I can hang my hat on that I brought some scouts to South Dakota Mines."
Saltes, at 6-5, 322 pounds, grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation before moving to New Mexico while in Middle School. He played at Valley High School in Albuquerque before graduating from New Mexico with a degree in political science and was enrolled in law school. His academic honors include being named three-time Lobo Scholar Athlete and two-time Mountain West All-Academic.
Saltes was the 2021 Wuerffel Trophy winner, which honors the most dedicated student-athlete in the nation to community service.
"We did it," Saltes said on Twitter after it was announced that he had signed with the Jets.