Two pieces of positive news made their way into Northeast Conference football circles on Thursday.
First, the Detroit Lions announced the signing of free agent linebacker Julian Stanford. The current NFC North leaders picked up the former two-time all-Northeast Conference selection to fill a void on special teams over the final weeks of the NFL regular season.
Shortly after #NECFB fans began digesting the news about Stanford, the Capital One Division I Football Academic All-America Teams were announced and all-NEC first team running back Kyle Harbridge was on the prestigious Honor Roll.
Following his collegiate playing career at Wagner, Stanford signed an UDFA contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars in April 2012. He spent the entire 2012 NFL season on Jacksonville’s active roster and appeared in all 16 games.
Stanford, who made six starts as a rookie, logged 23 tackles for the Jags last year. He was with Jacksonville throughout this past offseason and training camp, but was a causality of the final preseason roster cutdown.
Stanford’s final season at Wagner was the 2011 campaign, which ended with the linebacker earning a first team all-conference nod. He totaled 53 tackles as a senior, including 11.5 stops for loss. Effective at both rushing the passer and dropping back into coverage, Stanford logged 5.0 sacks, 4 quarterback hurries and 3 interceptions. He also forced a fumble and blocked a kick.
This past November, Harbridge completed one of the most-fruitful careers by a running back in the 18-year history of NEC football. The 5-foot-10 ball carrier rushed for 4,126 yards over his career at Saint Francis, setting a Red Flash record and claiming eighth place in NEC history.
Harbridge, who is currently a graduate student working on his MBA after completing his degree in marketing with a 3.63 GPA, didn’t let adversity derail his career. After a preseason knee injury ended his 2012 campaign before it even started, Harbridge bounced back and made his fifth year the most productive one of his career. His 1,619 rush yards were third-most amongst all FCS running backs during the 2013 regular season.
Harbridge, who finished 13th in this year’s Walter Payton Award voting, saved some of his best performances for some of the nation’s top-tiered teams. He reached the 100-yard rushing mark in non-conference contest against perennial FCS power Georgia Southern and James Madison. Against No. 10 Fordham, he exploded for 291 rush yards and three touchdowns.
Named to the Capital One Second Team, Harbridge became the 39th student-athlete in the history of SFU athletics to achieve Academic All-America status.
Read More About It…
Detroit Lions Julian Stanford prepared to fill special teams role – Mlive.com (Kyle Meinke)
Morning Roar: Lions Bring in Stanford – ESPN.com (Michael Rothstein)
Recently signed LB Julian Stanford eager to make most of chance with Lions — Detroit News (Josh Katzenstein)