MARIETTA -Luke Black's football playing days are not over.
In fact, the Marietta native and former Parkersburg Catholic/ Fairmont State University standout is going to get an opportunity to sack Aaron Rodgers this week.
The 23-year-old Black - who earned a degree in graphic technology - inked a contract this past Saturday to play professional ball for the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League.
Former Parkersburg Catholic and Fairmont State standout Luke Black is attempting to make the roster of the Cincinnati Bengals.
This is his first NFL deal. At 7 p.m. Thursday, Black will be suited up and playing at defensive end when the Bengals host the Green Bay Packers in a preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium. Rodgers, of course, is Green Bay's All-Pro quarterback. The Packers are 0-2 in preseason play while the Bengals are 1-1.
"Luke's has been working out with the Bengals since Saturday and is very exited, no doubt," said Gregg Black, Luke's father and owner of Black's Tree Service in Marietta. "My wife and I will be driving over there to Cincinnati Thursday to watch him play. He needs to perform well, of course. They only carry 53 players on the roster, and keep six to nine on the practice squad."
Luke Black, 6-foot-6, 288 pounds, had been a paid assistant coach on the Marietta High football team until he received a telephone call from the Bengals last Friday morning. That evening, he was in Ohio's Queen City while the Adam Eichhorn-coached Tigers scrimmaged John Marshall of W.Va. at Don Drumm Stadium.
"I was at the Marietta scrimmage when I got a text from Luke, wondering how the Tiger linemen were doing," said Gregg Black, whose other son Nate coaches the MHS linebackers. "He said he just loved coaching those kids."
But not everyone gets a chance to play in the NFL. Several teams, like the Browns, Colts, and Packers, have been interested in Luke," the elder Black said. "And the Bengals have been in the hunt all along. They liked what they saw when he performed at the West Virginia Mountaineers' pro day while he was in school at Fairmont State."
Back in the spring, the younger Black, who starred at Fairmont State went undrafted by NFL teams but received invitations to attend rookie camps, first in Dallas and then in Green Bay.
"You have to remember that about 30 kids who didn't get drafted are invited to try out for three spots at these camps," Gregg Black said. "It depends on what the team's needs are. Well, Luke looked good, and they told him to stay in shape, because it was just a phone call away."
Indeed, it was, as the Bengals have come calling.
"I think the Bengals' four-man front is a good fit for Luke," Gregg Black said.