MONMOUTH’S HAKEEM VALLES SIGNS WITH THE ARIZONA CARDINALS
WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ- Monmouth University senior Hakeem Valles (Sicklerville, NJ/The Peddie School) has signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League.
Valles was a two-year starter at tight end of the Hawks after transitioning from the wide receiver position his first three years at Monmouth. He averaged over 12 yards per reception and had 40 receptions for 491 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons at tight end.
“I feel great, going into the draft Arizona was my number one choice,” said Valles. “After discussing it with my family, my agent and combined with their situation at tight end it was definitely where I wanted to land.”
Valles worked out on Monday for the Cardinals. Earlier this month at Monmouth’s Pro Day, the 6’4 250lb Sicklerville product worked out for scouts from 11 NFL teams. At that Pro Day he ran a 4.63 40 yard dash, which was the fastest time run by a tight end this season.
“After Atlanta and San Diego both drafted tight ends I thought it would be them [Arizona] or Tampa Bay,” said Valles. “Everything just worked out, they were honest from the start with me. They told me they weren’t going to draft a tight end but if they did it would be me. Atlanta had called me and were working on a contract but I knew I wanted to sign with Arizona.”
Valles graduated in May of 2015 with his undergraduate degree in business real estate and had started his MBA before putting that on hold in January to concentrate on training. Last year, Valles’ brother Max was drafted by the Oakland Raiders at the outside linebacker position.
“I’m very happy for Hakeem and his family,” said Monmouth Head Coach Kevin Callahan. “Signing with the Arizona Cardinals is a tremendous accomplishment and we are very proud of him.”
A number of Hawks who have been drafted or signed free agent deals have reached out to Valles, including Neal Sterling who was drafted last season by the Jacksonville Jaguars and former Hawk/current Hamilton Tiger Cat Tevrin Brandon who signed a free agent deal after the 2013 season.
“I spoke with Tev when he was at my house last week, we talked a while about what to expect and the mindset you need to have,” said Valles. “Neal [Current Jacksonville Jaguar Neal Sterling] called me the day before the draft started. We just caught up and talked about his experience. He told me to stay focused and calm throughout the whole process.”
“I’m incredibly proud and excited for Hakeem,” said Monmouth Assistant Head Coach and Tight Ends Coach Jeff Gallo. “Arizona is a great opportunity for Hakeem to chase his dream of playing in the NFL.”
Gallo has mentored two Monmouth tight ends who have earned NFL opportunities. Former Hawk John Nalbone was drafted in the fifth round by the Miami Dolphins and three seasons ago Mike McLafferty signed a free agent deal with the Atlanta Falcons.
Valles will leave late this week for minicamp with the Cardinals and will remain there most of June.
It has been an absolute honor playing at Monmouth University,” said Valles. “It is supposed to be a small school but anything can happen when you put your mind to it. I have to give credit to Coach Callahan and Coach Gallo, Monmouth was my only offer coming out of high school and look were it has gotten me.”