#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

2019 NFL Draft Hopefuls from #NECFB

Ryan Fulse

Gregory Senat was one of the fortunate few last spring.

The Wagner offensive tackle heard his name called in the 2018 NFL Draft, joining an exclusive club of NEC alumni. Senat was only the sixth Northeast Conference athlete to be taken in the big league draft.

With the Baltimore Ravens giving him a fair share of reps at the tackle spot, Senat showed plenty of promise during rookie camp and training camp prior to suffering a season-ending injury in a preseason game. After landing on IR, he’ll look to make his mark again in Baltimore this offseason.

Meanwhile, plenty of Northeast Conference alumni have hopes of joining Senat in the NFL and a healthy number of them are likely to receive some kind of opportunity (Drafted, UDFA signing, Rookie Camp Tryout).

When it comes to NEC prospects with “draftable grades,” the three names that most frequently appear in the abundance of pre-draft literature and listings that exist across the worldwide web are – CCSU QB Jacob Dolegala, Duquesne WR Nehari Crawford and Wagner RB Ryan Fulse.

All three men earned All-NEC First Team distinction at the conclusion of the 2018 regular season.

Should no NEC player hear his name called during the seven-round NFL Draft, the UDFA route has proven fruitful in past years.

In fact, the three longest-tenured NFL players – RMU’s Hank Fraley (142 games), Monmouth’s Miles Austin (129 games) and Wagner’s Julian Stanford (72 games – ACTIVE) – all signed NFL contracts as undrafted free agents.

In the meantime, have a glance at all of the NEC-related pre-draft Twitter chatter that we have laid out below…

Continue reading

#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.

 

Continue reading

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.

 

TWEET SHEET