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Banned OU football player Mike Balogun breaks silence

BY JAKE TROTTER, Staff Writer, jtrotter@opubco.com Modified: March 10, 2010 at 8:35 am •  Published: March 10, 2010

/> Florida State officials were familiar with the rule since they had a player, wide receiver Corey Surrency, whose career was cut short after it was found earlier in 2008 he had played a season of semi-pro football past the age of 21.

"The night we get back from the national championship, I get a call from (OU’s) compliance office saying they’re investigating me again because Florida State called and asked how did this guy have eligibility because an announcer during the game said something about me playing semi-pro ball,” Balogun recalled. "I didn’t understand what (Florida State) was trying to accomplish.”

The Seminole official asserted a box score found on the Internet showed that Balogun had played semi-pro ball after his 21st birthday. Balogun turned 21 on Sept. 28, 2004. The box score was from a game dated Nov. 12, 2005, when the North American Football League’s Maryland Marauders played in the league’s title game. In the box score, Balogun was listed as recording seven tackles and recovering a fumble in a 13-10 loss to the West Sound (Wash.) Saints. He would have been 22 during that game.

"A box score from (five) years ago still posted by somebody not even associated with the organization they said I played for,” Balogun said. "My name is still posted on their rosters to this day. But am I still on their team?

"At that point, I was done with (semi-pro ball), finished with it. I was working construction then. I didn’t even play in that game. They had me playing a great game. I was like the Player of the Century. Come on, don’t give me all that when I didn’t earn it.”

Balogun said he and his attorney are planning to sue for monetary damages after the NFL Draft, and he’s hoping his lawsuit will set a precedent.

"Any part where I can be part of changing the rules, how they can manipulate someone’s life or career, I’ll be part of it anyway I can,” Balogun said. "It affects people’s lives. I could’ve got discouraged in school. I didn’t. But not everybody is the same.”

Until then, Balogun, who also expects to graduate in May, is hoping to make it with an NFL team, even though he sat out last season.

"All I want is a shot at a roster spot, and I’ll prove myself,” he said. "I just want a shot. That’s all I need.”