#NECinNFL: Late-Summer 2021 Update

Christian Kuntz (PHOTO: Chaz Palla – TribLive.com)

It’s Preseason Week 3 in the National Football League.

Teams have one last chance to evaluate their talent during game action prior to finalizing their 53-man regular season rosters.

There are plenty of Northeast Conference alumni in the mix, hoping to land on active NFL rosters for the 2021 campaign.

Here are the #NECinNFL names you need to know…

Cam Gill, LB (Wagner) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The two-time NEC Defensive Player of the Year made the Bucs’ 53-man roster as a rookie UDFA in 2020. He saw on-field action during Tampa’s victory in Super Bowl 55, but Gill has missed numerous reps this preseason due to injury. Normally, his roster status would not be in question, but his lack of preseason availability is something to monitor. Whether or not he fits into the Bucs’ plans for Opening Day, the organization clearly liked Gill enough to award him defensive snaps in the Super Bowl.

Christian Kuntz, LS (Duquesne) – Pittsburgh Steelers

Kuntz made life miserable for opposing quarterbacks as a collegiate linebacker, but he has transitioned to a long snapper at the professional level. The former three-time DI FCS All-American has bounced around the NFL training camp circuit and spent time in both the AAF and XFL. Kuntz’s tireless efforts could pay off in the form of a 53-man roster spot this time around. He spent time on the Steelers’ practice squad late in the 2020 season and signed a futures/reserve contract in January. Kuntz has seen a healthy number of reps at long snapper throughout Steelers’ camp and appears to be in a position battle with incumbent Kameron Canaday.

Tom Kennedy, WR (Bryant) – Detroit Lions

Kennedy, who has spent each of the past two seasons on the Lions’ Practice Squad and was active for one regular season game in 2019, has led his team in receiving yards during each of the first two preseason games. The former dual-sport college star may be playing his way into the Lions’ regular season receivers rotation. Kennedy made a 29-yard reception to set up a late, go-ahead field against Buffalo in Preseason Week 1. The following week, the Bryant alumnus produced gainers of 31 and 25 yards at Pittsburgh.

Jake Dolegala, QB (Central Connecticut) – Green Bay Packers

The all-time leading passer in CCSU history enters his third NFL season after spending much on the 2020 campaign on the New England Patriots’ practice squad. Dolegala, who spent the entire 2019 season on the Cincinnati Bengals’ 53-man roster after signing as a rookie UDFA, has bounced in between Green Bay and New England this offseason/preseason. The Packers resigned prior to Preseason Game 2, adding an arm in the wake of Jordan Love’s injury. Dolegala entered the game in the waning minutes of the Packers’ 23-14 loss to the New York Jets. He has NFL measurables and big-league arm strength that will continue to intrigue the Packers and others in the months ahead.

Greg Senat, OT (Wagner) – Cleveland Browns

Initially landing at Wagner on a basketball scholarship, Senat made a successful transition to the gridiron where he started two seasons for the Seahawks. Senat, a former Baltimore Ravens’ sixth-round draft pick who spent his rookie season on injured reserve, was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad during their Super Bowl 54 championship season. In 2020, Senat signed with Dallas and saw action in 10 regular season games. Having since moved onto Cleveland, the 6-foot-6 Empire State product is battling for a spot on the Browns’ 53-man roster as a swing tackle.

Julian Stanford, LB (Wagner) – Carolina Panthers

Since landing with Jacksonville as a rookie in 2012, Stanford has established himself as a special teams ace. He earned six regular season starts at linebacker during his first year with the Jaguars, but has spent much his 104-game career as a contributor on special teams. After playing the 2018 and 2019 campaigns with the Buffalo Bills, Stanford continued his NFL career in Carolina last year. The Panthers used him heavily on special teams, where he logged seven tackles. This past offseason, Carolina signed Stanford to another one-year deal. He has been banged up during the preseason, but appears back at full strength now according to reports.

Chris Williams, DT (Wagner) – Indianapolis Colts

Williams developed into a NFL prospect during his time at Wagner, benefitting from the tutelage of position coach (and NFL veteran) Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton. The Empire State product signed a UDFA deal with the Colts following the 2020 NFL Draft and spent the ensuing season on the team’s practice squad. Listed on Indianapolis’ depth chart as a nose tackles, Williams has been battling for an active roster spot all summer long. He was credited with a tackle in the Colts’ recent 12-10 win over the Vikings. Pro Football Focus tracked Williams on a team-high 27 pass-rushing snaps in the Preseason Week 2 contest. Williams made two stops in the Colts’ preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers. After the game, he caught up with the aforementioned Terrance Knighton who is in his first season on the Carolina coaching staff.

EXPANDED TWEET SHEET

Mount St. Mary’s #MarchMadness Tweet Sheet

Mount St. Mary’s is trending.

Fresh off the 2021 #NECMBB Tournament title, Dan Engelstad’s Mountaineers are batting leadoff in the NCAA Tournament lineup.

The Mount will tip off NCAA First Four action against SWAC champion Texas Southern on Thursday, March 18 at 5:10 pm ET on TruTV.

FWIW, former President Barack Obama has Mount St. Mary’s advancing…

 

#MarchMadness Tweet Sheet

Mack Attack: Warriors Capture #NECMBB Regular Season Title in Year 1

Let the celebration begin and rightfully so.

Merrimack’s inaugural Division I season reached its climax on Thursday night at Hammel Court.

Needing a win to lock up at least a share of the NEC regular season men’s basketball crown, the Warriors posted a double-digit victory over Central Connecticut State. While finalizing their NEC record at 14-4, Merrimack also reach the 20-win mark overall.

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LIVIN’ THEIR BEST LIFE: NEC Alumni Update (Karinchak, Fish, Jerome)

Their collegiate playing days are long gone, but numerous Northeast Conference alumni are actively enjoying professional careers in sports.

In addition to those who are competing at the pro level, there are plenty of NEC alumni who have made their marks in different sectors of the sports industry.

 

Heading into Summer 2019, we take a look at three NEC alumni who are currently livin’ their best life in the world of sport….

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Five Tweets To Favorite – June 3

Here are five tweets from the past week that highlight what’s happening around the Northeast Conference…

 

FORMER COLONIAL’S SECRET SERVICE

Jenna Carey has gone from Joe Walton Stadium to the White House Lawn. The Robert Morris women’s lacrosse alumna has gone onto a professional career in the US Secret Service. The former student-athlete, who spent two summers as an intern with the US Marshals Service, shared her story with NCAA.org and was the subject of a recently-published “After The Game” feature.

 

 

 

CHAMPION COACH’S LASTING WORDS

It’s been quite a ride for New Jersey’s native son Greg Herenda. After guiding Fairleigh Dickinson to its second NEC Tournament title in the last four years, the veteran head coach and his Knights went on to deliver a NCAA Tournament win to the North Jersey-based school. The dynamic Herenda, who doubles as a radio deejay on WFDU, had the opportunity to address FDU’s graduating class as the commencement speaker.

 

 

BACK-TO-BACK FOR MACK

What a way to usher in a new era of Merrimack Athletics. Set to kick off their transition into the Division I ranks as a new Northeast Conference core member institution, the Merrimack Warriors closed out the 2018-19 academic year by repeating as the NCAA Division II Men’s Lacrosse National Champions. The Warriors, who will begin NEC competition in 2020, doubled up Limestone College, 16-8, in the D2 national title tilt.

 

 

DAWGS’ DOUBLE REPRESENTATION

Bryant won 40 baseball games in 2019 and two of the men who led the charge for the NEC regular season champion were named as two of the top performers in America. Senior southpaw Steve Theetge, a two-time NEC Pitcher of the Year, along with junior Chris Wright, who was an all-league first team selection at the first base and relief pitcher positions, earned Third Team All-America status from the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. Theetge went 9-2 with a league-low 1.75 ERA while Wright compiled 70 hits and 51 RBI over 60 games and also recorded a NEC single-season record 13 saves.

 

 

PHELAN THE FIRST

Sara Phelan reset the Saint Francis U program record in the javelin while breaking into the Top 8 at the NCAA East Region Championships. As a result of her 50.91m (167′) heave, Phelan earned the right to compete for a national title as one of 24 qualifiers who are heading to the NCAA Championships in Austin. She is the first woman in SFU history to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships and will compete on June 6 at 9:15 pm ET.