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Tangled college career hasn't cost Bomar an opportunity in NFL

INDIANAPOLIS -- Of course Rhett Bomar watched the BCS national championship game. His old team, Oklahoma, was in it, and quickly all could see that the Sooners could not keep stride with Florida. His replacement at Oklahoma, quarterback Sam Bradford, the Heisman Trophy winner, brawled and clawed, but Florida romped. Bomar watched it all.

"Well, I didn't actually sit down and do high-fives and throw a party during or after the game," Bomar said. "There were many players on the Oklahoma team that I grew up with as a freshman. I was happy for their season. I doubt there are a lot of players here at the combine who have gone through the exact kind of adversity I have had to go through."

The exact kind of hardship? No. Bomar's story is twisted and tangled, for sure, in large part a web he spun.

Bomar was ranked the No. 1 quarterback in the nation out of his Texas high school in 2004 and was an Oklahoma redshirt. In 2005, he was the Sooners' quarterback and the offensive MVP in their Holiday Bowl victory over Oregon. The next year, he was booted from the team. He violated NCAA and team rules by receiving money from a booster for jobs he did not do at a car dealership.

Bomar found new football life at Sam Houston State. In two seasons there, he threw 37 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions.

The Cincinnati Bengals' Marvin Lewis, who coached Bomar at the Senior Bowl, remembered what he saw.

"He has a good, strong arm and worked hard," Lewis said. "I would think he is going to be a solid mid-round pick."

Now Bomar is here at the combine looking for another chance. For retribution. A new football life and a shot to rise once again on the field in the draft class of 2009.

Here at the combine, Bomar ran the second-best 40-yard dash (4.82 seconds) among quarterbacks. Several scouts report that his arm strength is stout, his release is quick and his accuracy is best in midfield throws. They also report his athleticism is better than average and that, like most young quarterbacks, he must improve on his touch and decision-making.

Making good decisions all around has been one of his priorities since things blew up for him at Oklahoma.

"That's life," Bomar said. "I guess we all, if we could do certain things over again, would choose a different way that we did in some of the things we chose. I know that applies to me.

"I have been in Atlanta since early December getting ready for this combine. Since we didn't have a bowl game, I was able to get an early start. I hope people here can see I'm ready to compete and be a leader. I know these are the types of questions teams here are asking me, and I am giving them the answer I believe -- yes, I am ready for that."

This is a player on whom the temptation is to look back on what was lost. He appears confident he can move his mind forward on what lies ahead.

"Sure, when you look at the success Oklahoma had while I was gone, it is bittersweet," Bomar admitted. "But I went to a place at Sam Houston State where I was given a great opportunity to play and work with great coaches and meet new teammates and friends. I will always be grateful to them for giving me a shot. And now, this is a fresh start."

Georgia's Matthew Stafford and USC's Mark Sanchez are widely considered the top two quarterbacks in this combine field. Next is Kansas State's Josh Freeman. Following him is a toss-up between Ball State's Nate Davis and Bomar.

An NFL scout at the combine offered this analysis of the group after quarterback workouts Sunday:

"Bomar in interviews comes off really well, very professional and sharp and candid about his mistakes at Oklahoma. There was no denying his mistakes, and you like to see that. He had a very good Senior Bowl, took all the snaps under center and showed really good arm strength. He followed that up here with a lot of competitiveness. I think the third or fourth round is about right for this quarterback.

"Freeman is really shooting up there. Sanchez, to me, could be a Brady Quinn and fall down to a pick in the 20s somewhere. Now, if Sanchez could play like he did against Penn State in the Rose Bowl, if that is the quarterback we knew he would be, forget it. But I am not that confident he can be that kind of guy. He looks more like a move guy than a pocket passer. Freeman might shoot past him into a higher pick in the first round. Bomar was impressive in the drills with his arm, and he is the son of a coach, and you like that. At the least, if you make this guy your third quarterback and develop him, that wouldn't be a bad idea."

Clearly, in some circles, what Bomar came to do he accomplished.

"I am focused on the future, not the past," Bomar said.

His past mistakes have not cost him a shot at a promising future. Bomar leaves the combine assured of that.

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