Duquesne QB Buechel Adds Name to #NECinNFL List, Joins WR Capers at Steelers’ Camp

The Northeast Conference’s all-time leading passer didn’t have to travel far for NFL rookie mini camp.

Duquesne’s Dillon Buechel had a chance to show off his skills in front of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ brass.  After playing his collegiate home games at Rooney Field on The Bluff, the all-NEC quarterback attended Steelers’ rookie minicamp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Buechel’s top target from the 2016 season was also present for the three-day camp, which began on May 12. All-NEC receiver Wayne Capers, Jr., who totaled 948 yards and nine touchdowns on 50 receptions as a senior, accepted an invitation shortly after the 2017 NFL Draft ended.

Buechel and Capers are two of four Duquesne graduates to earn a NFL rookie mini camp invitation this spring.  Offensive lineman Larson Graham (Atlanta Falcons) and All-American linebacker Christian Kuntz (Tampa Bay Bucs) are the others.

Rookie minicamp roster is announced – Steelers.com

fb 17 steelers mini roster

 

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NEC-related Rumblings from NFL Rookie Mini Camps

Najee Harris answers a question during the live program at 2016 #NECFB Social Media Day – MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, NJ)

The first wave of NFL rookie mini camps unfolded this past weekend and there was some good news for a pair of NEC alumni.

Wagner’s Najee Harris, who was a captain during the 2016 season, entered the Oakland Raiders’ mini camp on a tryout basis and left with a three-year NFL free agent contract.

Harris was active in the Seahawks’ linebacking corps this past fall, recording 44 tackles (30 solo). The 6-foot-2 225-pounder logged 4.5 hits for a loss as well as four quarterback hurries. The versatile Harris was credited with five pass break-ups last season and his lone interception came in a victory over NEC champion Saint Francis U.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Bay, Saint Francis U alumnus Lorenzo Jerome was busy doing work at the San Francisco 49ers’ rookie mini camp. The four-time all-NEC first team safety signed a UDFA contract only hours after the completion of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Jerome went undrafted despite receiving rave reviews from analysts such as the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock and ESPN’s Todd McShay. The positive comments were warranted considering that Jerome made 18 interceptions during a collegiate career that included All-America honors at two different positions (DB, KR).

Jerome was responsible for three takeaways (2 INT, FF) in the Reese’s Senior Bowl in April, only one week after earning the MVP Award at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. The 5-foot-11 native Floridian apparently continued such behavior with the 49ers this past weekend. Jerome reportedly made a highlight-reel worthy interception during 11-on-11 drills. He also became the subject of a story written by Sacramento Bee reporter Matt Barrows.

 

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Three Undrafted NEC Footballers Who Played Multiple NFL Seasons and Some

They are responsible for some of the longest-tenured NFL careers in Northeast Conference history and none of the three men were drafted.

Robert Morris offensive lineman Hank Fraley was the first, going undrafted in 2000 after garnering three consecutive all-NEC first team selections. When his playing career was finally over, he had made 142 appearances (123 starts) during NFL regular season games and was the Eagles’ starting center in Super Bowl XXXIX. Fraley is currently pursuing a career in coaching. After serving as an offensive line assistant with the Minnesota Vikings, he signed on with Pac-12 member UCLA this past winter.

Monmouth’s Miles Austin was also a three-time all-NEC first teamer, but he, too, did not hear his name called on Draft Day in 2006.  The explosive wideout, who averaged more than 20.0 yards per catch during the 2005 season, signed on with the Dallas Cowboys and made his initial impression by returning kicks. By 2010, Austin was a two-time Pro Bowler. He posted back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons in 2009 and 2010. He played 129 career games, second all-time for a NEC alumnus behind Fraley.

Then, there’s Wagner alumnus Julian Stanford, who has been an active member of the 53-man roster for three different NFL teams. The Nutmeg State product was an all-NEC first teamer in 2011, but had to settle for an undrafted free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars during the Spring of 2012. Stanford made the Jags’ 53-man roster out of training camp and proceeded to start six games as a rookie. After eventually moving on to stints with the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Bucs, Stanford is back in the New York Metropolitan area. He played in nine games for the New York Jets during the 2016 campaign, including three starts in place of the injured Darron Lee. He made 28 tackles before his season ended with a trip to the injured reserve list (ankle).

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#NECFB Has Strong Presence in #FCSAwards Voting

fcs-awards-graphic

Thanksgiving Week signals the start of two important processes in the world of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

The Saturday immediately following Thanksgiving is reserved for NCAA DI FCS first round playoff matchups, kicking off the 24-team championship tournament also known as the #RoadToFrisco.

Earlier in the week, STATS Inc opens the annual voting for its FCS legacy awards.

Entering its 30th season, the FCS legacy awards program continues to celebrate the high quality of play in the Football Championship Subdivision as well as some of the sport’s most-recognizable historical figures.

The recipients of four major awards — the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award (FCS offensive player of the year), STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year), STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman player of the year) and STATS FCS Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) — will be chosen by a voting panel that consists of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries.

The Northeast Conference has a combined seven finalists for the four honors, marking the NEC’s largest presence ever in the awards program.

All four awards and the STATS FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be celebrated at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation, scheduled for Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas, on the eve of the national championship game.

Check out the NEC’s candidates below along with lists of national finalists for each award.

necfootballawardwatchlist


#NECFB Finalists…

WALTER PAYTON AWARD

Dillon Buechel, QB, Duquesne: 208 of 363, 2,865 yards, 23 TD, 10 INT, 139.0 passing efficiency (11 games)

Kamron Lewis, WR, Saint Francis: 69 receptions, 1,349 yards, 10 TD; 4 KO returns, 90 yards (11 games)

 

BUCK BUCHANAN AWARD

Lorenzo Jerome, S, Saint Francis: 53 TT (30 solo), 4.5 TFL, 2.5 SK, 6 INT, 5 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 FR, 1 TD; 1 reception, 48 yards, 1 TD; 14 KO returns, 405 yards, 1 TD (9 games)

Christian Kuntz, LB, Duquesne: 64 TT (38 solo), 24 TFL, 11.5 SK, 2 PBU, 7 QBH, 1 FR, 3 FF, 1 TD (11 games)

 

JERRY RICE AWARD

A.J. Hines, RB, Duquesne: 242 carries, 1,296 yards, 13 TD; 15 receptions, 200 yards, 1 TD (11 games)

Gee Stanley, LB, Robert Morris: 59 TT (29 solo), 12.5 TFL, 8.5 SK, 1 PBU, 4 QBH, 3 FR, 3 FF (11 games)

 

EDDIE ROBINSON AWARD

Chris Villarrial, Saint Francis – The Red Flash didn’t have a winning record in their Division I history until the last two seasons, and Villarrial made it a first Northeast Conference title and FCS playoff bid this year. Records: 7-4, 5-1 NEC.

 

Complete Lists of Finalists…

WALTER PAYTON AWARD FINALISTS
(FCS Offensive Player of the Year)
Khalid Abdullah, RB, James Madison; Jeremiah Briscoe, QB, Sam Houston State; Dillon Buechel, QB, Duquesne; Taryn Christion, QB, South Dakota State; Tarik Cohen, RB, North Carolina A&T; Julie’n Davenport, LT, Bucknell; Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham; Austin Gahafer, QB, Morehead State; Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State; Gage Gubrud, QB, Eastern Washington; Karel Hamilton, WR, Samford; De’Angelo Henderson, RB, Coastal Carolina; Devlin Hodges, QB, Samford; KD Humphries, QB, Murray State; Eli Jenkins, QB, Jacksonville State; DeVante Kincade, QB, Grambling State; Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington; Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond; Kamron Lewis, WR, Saint Francis; Tyrell Maxwell, QB, Gardner-Webb; Troy Pelletier, WR, Lehigh; Bryan Schor, QB, James Madison; Lenard Tillery, RB, Southern; Justin Watson, WR, Penn; Jake Wieneke, WR, South Dakota State

BUCK BUCHANAN AWARD FINALISTS
(FCS Defensive Player of the Year)
Pat Afriyie, DE, Colgate; Darien Anderson, LB, Alcorn State; Mike Basile, S, Monmouth; Christopher Beaschler, LB, Dayton; Dylan Cole, LB, Missouri State; Winston Craig, DE, Richmond; Keionta Davis, DE, Chattanooga; Dee Delaney, CB, The Citadel; Garrett Dolan, LB, Houston Baptist; Anthony Ellis, DE, Charleston Southern; Chad Geter, LB, Gardner-Webb; P.J. Hall, DE, Sam Houston State; Darius Jackson, DE, Jacksonville State; Lorenzo Jerome, S, Saint Francis; Javancy Jones, DE, Jackson State; Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova; Christian Kuntz, LB, Duquesne; Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State; Folarin Orimolade, LB, Dartmouth; Donald Payne, S, Stetson; Cole Reyes, S, North Dakota; Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown State; Karter Schult, DE, Northern Iowa; Alex Searce, LB, Coastal Carolina; Brett Taylor, LB, Western Illinois

JERRY RICE AWARD FINALISTS
(FCS Freshman Player of the Year)
Tyrie Adams, QB, Western Carolina; Jordan Bentley, RB, Alabama A&M; Marlon Bridges, S, Jacksonville State; Elijah Burress, QB, Campbell; Stephen Calvert, QB, Liberty; Jaylan Foster, CB, Gardner-Webb; Chase Fourcade, QB, Nicholls; A.J. Hines, RB, Duquesne; Torrey Hunt, CB, North Dakota; Pop Lacey, S, New Hampshire; Sully Laiche, DE, Nicholls; Joe Logan, RB, Northern Arizona; Jerry Louie-McGee, WR, Montana; Steven Newbold, WR, Tennessee State; Corey Parker, S, William & Mary; Alex Probert, PK, Liberty; Max Roberts, LB, Fordham; Christian Rozeboom, LB, South Dakota State; Shane Simpson, RB/RS, Towson; Prince Smith Jr., CB, New Hampshire; Gee Stanley, LB, Robert Morris; Ryan Stanley, QB, Florida A&M; Nathan Stewart, WR, Sam Houston State

EDDIE ROBINSON AWARD FINALISTS
(FCS Coach of the Year)
Brian Bohannon, Kennesaw State; Rod Broadway, North Carolina A&T; Steve Campbell, Central Arkansas; Andy Coen, Lehigh; Broderick Fobbs, Grambling State; Mike Houston, James Madison; K.C. Keeler, Sam Houston State; Chris Klieman, North Dakota State; Dale Lindsey, San Diego; Jerry Mack, North Carolina Central; Bubba Schwiegert, North Dakota; Jason Simpson, UT Martin; Bob Surace, Princeton; Brent Thompson, The Citadel; Chris Villarrial, Saint Francis