#NECinNFL Update (2018 Rookie Camp Edition)

They just want an opportunity and a number of fortunate NEC football alumni are getting one this spring.

Six athletes with all-NEC credentials have accepted invitations to attend NFL Rookie Camps on a tryout basis.

They are as follows:

Malik Duncan, Saint Francis DB (Steelers)

Delondo Boyd, Saint Francis DB (Bears)

Ben Huss, Duquesne OG (Jaguars)

Matt Sewall, Bryant WR/KR (Texans)

Andy Smigiera, Robert Morris DB (Seahawks/Cardinals)

Randall Laguerre, Central Connecticut LB (Eagles)

Amongst the aforementioned six men, Huss and Duncan earned STATS FCS All-America honors this past winter. Huss competed in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in January.

 

Meanwhile, Wagner two starting offensive tackles from the 2017 season will compete in NFL camps after signing rookie contracts. After being selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by Baltimore, Greg Senat inked a deal with the Ravens prior to the start of their mini camp. Meanwhile, all-NEC tackle Matt Diaz was one of 22 players to sign UDFA contracts with the Tennessee Titans.

 

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Double The Fun: Wagner and Robert Morris Both Win in Empire State

Pretty good day for Northeast Conference lacrosse, wouldn’t you say?

The conference saw its men’s and women’s team champions triumph in NCAA Tournament action on Wednesday.

First, Wagner played host to Southern Conference champion Mercer in a NCAA Women’s Opening Round affair on Grymes Hill. The Seahawks saw their 5-0 lead evaporate, but eventually seized control for good midway through the second half.

By virtue of its victory, Wagner will have the chance to battle No. 7 Towson in the next round on Friday.

About an hour after Wagner concluded its victory in Staten Island, the Robert Morris men faced off against MAAC member Canisius on the opposite end of the Empire State. After watching the home team score first, RMU erupted en-route to a 12-6 victory in Downtown Buffalo.

Now, it’s on to College Park where the Colonials will try their luck against No. 1 Maryland.

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NEC Lacrosse Finals Were Fantastic to the Finish

Two title games, two fantastic finishes, all on the same day.

Overtime was needed to determine a winner in both games.

First, top-seeded Saint Joseph’s erased a two-goal over the final 5:00 of regulation play in the NEC Men’s Lacrosse Championship Game. SJU’s Kyle Cain scored both goals, including the equalizer with 00:15 remaining, but those heroics will go down in history only as a footnote.

Overshadowing the host’s comeback effort, Tyson Gibson gave Robert Morris a sudden victory by rattling the cage with only 10 ticks left in overtime.

 

Gibson’s Gamewinner

 

The NEC Women’s Championship Game, which began one hour after the men’s start, concluded in most-memorable fashion, too.

Bryant’s Lauren Britton scored the go-ahead goal with only 1:00 remaining, but NEC Rookie of the Year Ally Alliegro responded for Wagner.

After producing the equalizer in the final minute of regulation, Alliegro ended the game in the third overtime period.

Alliegro Ends It

 

Greg Senat: Hoops ➡️ Gridiron ➡️ NFL Draft Pick

A former college basketball player became the first Northeast Conference athlete selected in the NFL Draft in nearly a decade.

Wagner offensive tackle Greg Senat, who originally attended the school on a basketball scholarship, went to the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Prior to Senat being selected with the No. 212 overall pick this spring, former Monmouth tight end, a four-time all-NEC honoree, was the conference’s last draft pick. Nalbone went to the Dolphins with the 161st pick in the 2009 NFL Draft (5th Round).

Although Senat is the first NFL Draft pick in Wagner’s NEC history, the Seahawks have had a presence in the NFL in recent years. Former all-NEC linebacker Julian Stanford has played in 59 NFL games since 2012 and the veteran signed a free agent contract with the Buffalo Bills this past offseason.

 

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NEC Produces Four of First 55 Picks in 2018 MLL Draft

Three Dawgs and a Colonial defenseman saw their names scroll across the Major League Lacrosse Draft ticker on Wednesday night.

Two current Northeast Conference lacrosse athletes were selected by the defending MLL champion Ohio Machine while two others went to the Boston Cannons.

Bryant midfielder Tom Kennedy, Tewaaraton watch list selection and Senior CLASS Award finalist, was the first NEC player to receive a call. Kennedy, who has scored at least 14 goals during each of his four collegiate campaigns, went to the Boston Cannons with the 26th overall selection.

Five picks later, the Machine drafted fellow Bryant Bulldog Kenny Massa (31st overall).

Robert Morris defender Zach Bryant was the next NEC player off the board, going to the Machine at Pick No. 45. Bryant is the first RMU player drafted into the professional outdoor league since Sean Meagher went 41st overall to Charlotte in the 2015 (December) MLL Supplemental Draft.

The Cannons, who took Kennedy in Round 3, chose another Bulldog with the first pick of Round 7. Anthony Johnson was the 55th selection overall, making Bryant the first ever NEC team to have three players taken in the same MLL Draft.

 

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2018 NEC MLL Draft Picks

Round 3 (26th Overall): Tom Kennedy, Bryant – Boston Cannons

Round 4 (31st Overall): Kenny Massa, Bryant – Ohio Machine

Round 5 (45th Overall): Zach Bryant, Robert Morris – Ohio Machine

Round 7 (55th Overall): Anthony Johnson, Bryant – Boston Cannons

NEC SAAC Alumni Series: Golfer’s Undergraduate Opportunity Sparks Career in Collegiate Athletics

Lauren Chapman (far right next to head coach Rob Warren) was a member of four NEC championship teams.

 

Lauren Chapman’s Northeast Conference career has come full circle with a little help from the NEC Student Academic Advisory Committee (SAAC).

It began as a student-athlete in Hackensack, where she helped Fairleigh Dickinson to four consecutive NEC women’s golf team titles.

During her playing days, Chapman was an instrumental leader off the course. She served as the Vice President of FDU’s SAAC for three years before taking over as the Chair of the NEC SAAC, a position that saw her represent the conference on a national level at NCAA Division I SAAC events.

There’s little doubt that those experiences are helping Chapman in her current role. In the Summer of 2016, she was hired as the Academic Coordinator for Student-Athletes at Bryant University, a position she still holds.

“Lauren was super involved in her time as a student athlete and that was certainly one of the pros of hiring her,” said Bryant Senior Associate Athletic Director and SWA Beth Wandyes.  “She has that real sense that people who hadn’t participated in high level college athletics would have, and that helps her have instant credibility with her athletes.”

Wandyes also acknowledged how the student-athletes appreciate Chapman’s work ethic outside of her office as well, where she constantly attends athletic events and serves as an advisor on several international trips.

“I think the biggest importance of SAAC is that it gives student athletes a voice,” Chapman said.  “You have [administrators] saying what they think will be better, but at the end of the day they aren’t the ones that are experiencing it.”

During her time as a FDU student-athlete, Chapman helped orchestrate important changes. One signature accomplishment was a successful campaign that granted priority registration to student-athletes when choosing classes.

“Being able to understand the people on campus and what their true experiences are is what’s most important because from there is where you can make changes that make sense and actually matter,” she explained.

Her passion for giving student athletes a voice all started with a program the FDU Athletic Department instituted that paired incoming freshman athletes with senior SAAC members.

“I went to that as a freshman and thought it was the coolest thing ever and I was like, ‘I want to be a mentor some day, this is really cool.’ I didn’t really correlate that with SAAC but obviously ended up finding that out eventually.”

However, it wasn’t until she first attended an NEC SAAC meeting that she fully realized what the committee is all about, and what ultimately led her to down a career path in college athletics.

“No one else really raised their hand so I was like, ‘I’ll go!’ And I think that’s where I was able to see the bigger picture. It’s more than just my sport on my campus. This is happening everywhere (around the league).”

From there, Chapman remained heavily involved with the FDU SAAC throughout her time in college before eventually ascending to the NEC SAAC Chair.

“There’s so much you can learn from being a SAAC rep,” Chapman argued. “Whether you want to stay in college athletics long term or not, you have the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself, and be able to network and meet people from all over the country. [NEC Commissioner] Noreen [Morris] is someone I see and can say hi and reminisce about when I was in college. And those are some of the nice connections and relationships that you can build.”

Following graduation from FDU in 2011, she earned her Master’s Degree in Sport Administration at Belmont University where also taught in the Sport Science Department and served as a compliance intern in the athletic department.

After completing her course work at Belmont in 2013, she accepted a post-graduate intern position within NCAA Governance in Indianapolis.

“The position with the NCAA is really how I ended up to where I am now because that was really seen full circle how college athletics work, and realizing that it’s more than just practicing, going to class, and playing in a tournament,” she said.

FDU head golf coach Rob Warren didn’t seem surprised that Chapman’s leadership abilities have resulted in post-graduate success.

“She was a big part of the program’s success and her gregarious personality carried over off the course as well,” Warren said.  “She was always involved around campus and always approachable. I’m proud to call her a true Knight for life.”

Being a Knight for life is a bit complicated now that she works at conference rival Bryant, but, thankfully, the Bulldogs have a women’s golf team so she can still root for her Knights at the NEC Championship.

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Written by Tanner Swan (@tannerRswan)