Category Archives: NEC Football

Summer Reading: Five Fast Stories for Start of Beach SZN

Throughout the summer, we will attempt to track any NEC-related headlines floating around the web.

 

Here are five to get us started…

 

🏈 Detroit Lions’ Tom Kennedy may have an edge as a lacrosse starDetroit Free Press (Gregory Levinsky)

 

🏀 Former Terriers women’s basketball captain to play in native AustraliaBrooklyn Daily Eagle (John Torenli)

 

🏈 Villarrial, SFU Ready For ‘Special’ Trip To JMUThe Winchester Star (Greg Madia)

 

🏀 Former St. Francis star Jess Kovatch signs pro basketball contractPittsburgh Tribune-Review (Bill Beckner)

 

⚾️ Central Connecticut baseball full of homegrown talent, including cousins at third base and first baseHartford Courant (Mike Anthony)

NEC In The Pros: An Update on Three All-Time Greats

 

New Jersey’s own Miles Austin was a three-time all-NEC performer for Monmouth before defying the odds as an UDFA at the NFL level.

Danielle McEwan earned the NCAA Bowling Championship MVP award as a freshman, contributing immensely to Fairleigh Dickinson’s national team title. When the Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour re-booted in 2015, the three-time NEC Player of the Year seem destined for stardom in the pro ranks.

Landing at Saint Francis, former Florida high school quarterback Lorenzo Jerome used his above-average athleticism and superb football instincts to become the first-ever four-time all-NEC first defensive back in league annals. After earning the MVP award at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, he became the first NEC player ever to compete in the Reese’s Senior Bowl where he caused three turnovers (FF, 2 INT).

One, if not all, of the three decorated athletes has likely popped into your Twitter TL recently. Here’s why…

 

ZO’S NEW OPPORTUNITY

Jerome made the San Francisco 49ers’ 53-man opening day roster in 2017 as an undrafted free agent. He went on to play in five regular season games before being waived by the 49ers on October 9, 2017. The ultra-talented safety resurfaced with the Seattle Seahawks during the 2018 NFL Preseason, but did not survive the final end-of-summer cutdown.

Itching for an opportunity to play at the professional with plenty to offer, Jerome found a new chance north of the border. The Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League (CFL) officially announced Jerome’s free agent signing on May 1 ahead of the 2019 CFL Draft.

 

 

D-MAC IS BACK ON TOUR

Two-time NCAA Player of the Year Danielle McEwan was a top performer for Team USA prior to joining the reincarnated PWBA Tour in 2015. Fast-forward to present day and McEwan has embarked on her fifth season as a professional.

McEwan most recently qualified for the five-person step ladder finals at the Nationwide Greater Cleveland Open, which was the third tournament on the PWBA season schedule. Prior to 2019, McEwan collected three standard PWBA tournament title and one major championship.

 

 

MILES’ SPECIAL MOMENT

Following the 2006 NEC football season, Austin went on to earn an undrafted free agent contract from the Dallas Cowboys. Finding his way onto the Cowboys’ 53-man opening day roster in 2007 as a kick returner, Austin eventually worked his way into the rotation as a receiver. After his opportunity on offense, he quickly achieved stardom. He led the NFL in receiving yards during the 2009 season and was selected to play in the Pro Bowl twice.

Austin played in 129 regular season games over his 10-year NFL career (making him the second-longest tenured NFL player to ever come out of the NEC), but he had left behind some unfinished business at Monmouth. Having never completed his degree requirements, Austin decided the returned to school following his retirement from the NFL. Physically going back into the classroom, Austin has earned his degree and has graduated from the university. He won’t be walking at commencement because he is on assignment for the 49ers as an assistant coach.

 

 

TWEET SHEET

 

Where #NECFB Alumni Stand Following NFL Rookie Camps

Photo from @TheBrownsWire (brownswire.com)

 

Ten Northeast Conference football alumni went to work as all 32 NFL teams hosted rookie mini camps over the first two weekends of May.

Three of those men were signed to contracts prior to rookie camp while the other seven former NEC ballers participated with their respective NFL teams on a tryout basis.

Central Connecticut’s all-time leading passer Jacob Dolegala (Bengals) and former Wagner signal caller TJ Linta (Chiefs) agreed to terms on free agents deals in the hours following the NFL Draft as did Saint Francis U’s all-NEC cornerback Jermaine Ponder (Browns).

After not earning a contract despite a productive three-day performance at Giants’ camp, Duquesne’s Nehari Crawford accepted a second tryout from the Steelers one week later. Crawford, who led the NEC in receiving yards in 2018, has not yet been signed, but he has managed to make an impression in front of NFL coaches and talent evaluators.

 

Bryant’s Tom Kennedy, an all-NEC first team WR in 2017, impressed enough at Lions’ rookie camp to warrant a signing. The quickness and athleticism that allowed Kennedy to collect all-conference honors at the Division I level in two different sports (football and lacrosse) could lead to a successful career as a NFL slot receiver.

 

 

All NEC alumni who competed at a NFL Rookie Camp this month are listed below along with their current contract statuses.

NFL Rookie Camp Participants

NEC Player – NFL Team (current status)

QB Jacob Dolegala – Bengals (Signed)

DB Jermaine Ponder – Browns (Signed)

QB TJ Linta – Chiefs (Signed)

WR Tom Kennedy – Lions (Signed [post-tryout])

WR Nehari Crawford – Giants / Steelers (tryout FA)

OG Matt Fitzpatrick – Seahawks (tryout FA)

LB Tom Costigan – Chargers (tryout FA)

DB Hakeem Kinard – Buccaneers (tryout FA)

RB Ryan Fulse – Eagles (tryout FA)

OG Larson Graham* – Giants (tryout FA)

* Non-rookie status

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#NECFB: Four Alumni Hit The Field In First Wave of NFL Rookie Camps

Eleven National Football League teams hosted post-draft rookie mini camps on the first weekend of May. Three of those camps featured #NECFB alumni.

The Dawg Pound got its first look at former Saint Francis U cornerback Jermaine Ponder, who signed an undrafted free agent contract in the hours following the NFL Draft. After leading the NEC in pass break-ups during the 2018 regular season, Ponder looks to make his mark at the next level and possesses the physical measurable that scouts love.

Duquesne alumni Nehari Crawford (WR), Larson Graham (OG) and Matt Fitzpatrick (OG) also participated in NFL rookie mini camp. All three men were invited to compete on a tryout basis.

In search of contracts, Crawford and Graham attended New York Giants rookie camp.

Crawford earned a second straight all-NEC first team nod in the fall before moving onto the pre-draft process this past winter. Crawford, who totaled 31 touchdown receptions during his Dukes’ tenure, earned an invite to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and made his way through the workout circuit, but did not hear his name called in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Surprisingly (to this Overtime Blog writer at least), Duquesne’s former stud receiver has yet to sign a free agent deal.

By multiple accounts, Crawford performed admirably over the course of the Giants’ three-day camp. The sure-handed receiver drew media praise for his lack of drops as well as executing a pretty post play on a pass from QB Daniel Jones.

Graham was a four-year starter, and three-time all-NEC honoree, on Duquesne’s offensive line. His final collegiate season was in 2016 when he made 11 starts at left tackle. Graham, who has transitioned to guard at the professional level, had a brief preseason stints with the Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers before resurfacing earlier this year in the Alliance of America Football.

Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick took to the field with the Seattle Seahawks. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound offensive guard, who played in every Duquesne game from 2015 through 2018, was caught on camera showing off his place-kicking ability as the camp came to a close last Sunday.

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NEC in NFL: Tracking Post-Draft Destinations

 

Hank Fraley and Miles Austin were all-NEC performers who took the undrafted free agent route to successful NFL playing careers.

In the aftermath of the 2019 NFL Draft, a number of NEC products hope to follow in the footsteps of the since-retired Fraley and Austin.

As of Monday morning (April 29), seven Northeast Conference players agreed to terms with NFL franchises on a free agent contract or a rookie mini camp tryout.

Due to the fact that NFL teams have yet to release official lists of signees and rookie camp invitees, all deals are “reported.”

We will continue to update the #NECinNFL rookies list as more information becomes available.

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