WARRENTON - It wasn't an ordinary weekend for Warrenton High School graduate Dusty McGrorty.

As of Sunday night, he was officially a St. Louis Ram.

The All-American from Southern Oregon University was by-passed in the NFL draft, which began Saturday and concluded Sunday afternoon shortly after 2 p.m.

McGrorty had originally been told that he would be offered a contract by both the Rams and Detroit Lions immediately after the draft was over, but the Rams couldn't wait.

With five picks left in the seventh and final round, McGrorty received a call and ?a free agent contract offer from St. Louis.

After a half-hour wait to see if there were any other offers, McGrorty accepted the Rams' invitation.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet that I'm officially an NFL player," said McGrorty, who leaves Thursday to report to the Rams' mini-camp.

The former Warrenton Warrior signed a one-year, $230,000 contract with St. Louis around 4 p.m. Sunday, and celebrated that afternoon with family and friends at Fultano's Pizza in Warrenton.

McGrorty has talked at length with Rams' running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, the former all-pro with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Montgomery has watched McGrorty on film, and "he said he likes what he sees," McGrorty said. "He was asking me for my cleat size and helmet size, so it was pretty serious. And he's an NAIA guy (from Abilene Christian University), so he knows what I've gone through and what it takes to make it in the NFL."

Montgomery held the NAIA record for career touchdowns (76), which was surpassed last season by McGrorty, who finished with 79 TDs, now second on the all-time list.

McGrorty will still have to battle to win a roster spot with St. Louis next fall, when he will join another rookie running back from Oregon.

The Rams traded up in the first round of the draft to select Oregon State's Steven Jackson with their first pick, the 24th overall.

While Jackson will be groomed as an eventual replacement for current St. Louis tailback Marshall Faulk, McGrorty will try to earn a spot on the team as both a running back and kick returner/special teams player.

"They only have one fullback right now, because they use a one-back offense with a lot of double-tight end stuff," said McGrorty, who had several pre-draft discussions with the Lions and Atlanta Falcons.

"We're real excited and pleased for him," said John Mattila, McGrorty's coach at Warrenton.

"We're proud of him, and we're proud of all those kids," he added, referring to McGrorty and classmates Daniel Sturgell, Wes Balensifer, Brian Bruney and DeeDee Arnall - all successful athletes who together walked the halls of a high school with an enrollment under 270. Bruney pitched in Portland and Arnall won a Northwest Conference championship in the javelin over the weekend.

"I thought Dusty played well in the Blue-Gray game, and proved that he could fit in at that level," Mattila said. "He's a very good blocker, and of course they play so much one-back offense in the pro's that you have to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield, and he can do that.

"Now it's just a matter of getting an opportunity, and making the most of that opportunity.

"It will be a great experience for him."

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