#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

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 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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