Adham Talaat cannot hear, but he hopes to make some serious noise in the 2014 NFL draft.
The talented defensive lineman hopes to become one of a very small handful of deaf players to play professional football. Talaat can hear fine with the help of hearing aids, but he does not wear them on the football field.
Talaat, who strikes an imposing figure at 6-foot-6, 271 pounds, was a standout at Division III Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf and hearing impaired in Washington, D.C., where scouts from more than 25 NFL teams came to watch him play.
While the odds seem stacked against him, Talaat views his handicap as an actual advantage.
“Crowd noise and trash talk does not faze me,” Talaat told The Associated Press. “An important point to consider is that NFL stadiums are loud. Players can’t always hear each other, so they use signals or signs on the sidelines, which is non-verbal communication. That happens to be my specialty.”
The versatile defensive end trained hard over the winter to make his NFL dream come true, spending over three months at TEST Sports Clubs in Martinville, N.J. At his first pro day, Talaat posted a 4.94-second 40-yard dash, a 30-inch vertical leap and 23 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, two more than top prospect Jadeveon Clowney.
“His size, speed and wingspan are all NFL-caliber traits,” said Kevin Dunn, owner and CEO of TEST Parisi Football Academy.
Talaat said he gains inspiration from Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman, who became the first deaf offensive player in the NFL when he signed with the Minnesota Vikings in 2012.
“The fact that Derrick Coleman is thriving in the NFL despite his hearing loss is opening eyes and doors in that aspect,” Talaat said.