Thursday, March 31, 2011

Junior pro day called off; Peterson not returning

Yale was supposed to have a junior pro day with quarterback Patrick Witt, running back Alex Thomas, linebacker Jordan Haynes and defensive linemen Jake Stoller and Pat Moran expect to go through many of the same drills as Tom McCarthy, Chris Blohm, Shane Bannon, Adam Money and Sean Williams did in front of scouts last week. However, the NFL has been sending out notification that juniors can not work out for NFL scouts during the lockout so the event was called off.

In some other news, Trevor Peterson has quit the team. Peterson, a tight end who transferred from Boise State last year, will remain enrolled at Yale. Peterson saw time on the junior varsity squad in his first year at Yale.

"He hung up his cleats," Yale coach Tom Williams said. "It was a disappointment, we expected big things from him. I guess he lost his desire to play college football."

Yale is still in the running to get former Duke defensive lineman Tevin Hood. Hood, who played in four games as a freshman non-scholarship player at Duke, was considering going to Arizona but he appears now to want to enroll at Yale. His application is currently being viewed by the admissions department at Yale.

Back to Peterson, his departure takes one player out of the contention for the tight end position. With the graduation of h-back Shane Bannon and tight ends Blohm and Caleb Smith, it will be interesting to see who emerges in the fullback, h-back, tight end positions. Alex Birks, who moved from tight end to offensive line a year ago, is being moved back to tight end. Elijah Thomas is moving from tailback to fullback while Keith Coty, Michael Leunen, Kyle Wittenauer and Beau Palin will also be in the mix when spring practice begins on April 4. Another possible name to watch is Jordan Jefferson, who did not play for the team a year ago because of medical reasons. He has not been cleared medically but Williams expects him to be out there for spring drills. He was on the verge of earning some quality playing time two years ago but he had some blood clotting issues and the medical staff will be monitoring Jefferson's situation before clearing him to practice.

There are a couple of new names on the roster (not including Moran who returns after taking off last season) as receiver Jack Bechert and tight end Willy Moore are walking onto the team and have been taking part in offseason conditioning.

When Jack Siedlecki stepped down after the 2008 season, one of the first names to emerge as a possible head coach at Yale was former Cheshire High coach Steve Addazio. In my other major beat at the paper, I cover the UConn women's basketball team and since I was down in Philadelphia for five days covering the Huskies, I headed over for an interview with Addazio who is in the first season at Temple's head coach. Of course I inquired about how serious his interest in the Yale job was. Here is what he had to say.

"It was very serious," Addazio said. "I had a chance to go there if I wanted to go there and at that time, I loved Yale and I thought (Yale athletic director) Tom Beckett was an awesome guy. Growing up, I thought I wanted to be at Yale. It is timing. Right when I was offered that job, I was also offered the offensive coordinator position at Florida. It all came down right before we were playing in the national championship. I just felt like I needed to become the offensive coordinator at Florida. I loved Yale. Probably if that (promotion at Florida) hadn't happened, I would have done it and been thrilled with that. Me and Rich Diana, we are so close. That was a wonderful opportunity but timing wise ... Everything works out for a reason."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mante prepping for combine

Yale's record-setting punter Tom Mante is preparing for a combine Monday in Scottsdale, Arizona. Mante has been living in Arizona, working with a kicking coach and doing some coaching at a local high school. Mante said last year every NFL team had a rep at the combine and that 20 of the 50 participants were signed by NFL, CFL or UFL teams.

The work with a kicking coach has paid dividends.

"I wish I had done this a couple of years ago," Mante said. "I was able to kick it (far) at Yale. Now I am kicking if 45-50 yards consistently with a 5 (second) hangtime."


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blohm opens some eyes at Yale's pro day

Tight end Chris Blohm didn't waste much time making an impression in front of New England Patriots scout James Liipfert and Ray Walsh Jr. of the New York Giants.

Blohm benched 225 pounds 30 times at Yale's pro day on Thursday and also was the only participant to clear 10 feet in the broad jump, maxing out at 10-1 throw in a 35 inch vertical leap and 40-yard dash times of 4.89 and 4.91 and it's easy to understand why Green Bay and Atlanta are among the teams showing interest in Blohm.

"It's been intense," Blohm said. "I was hoping to hit the number, the magic number (30 on the bench press) so it was exciting to get it. I am excited to see what happens and hoping for some positive reaction to these numbers. I was pretty pleased with all of them. The 40 was a question mark and it turned out to be OK. I am going to keep working out with these guys (fellow Yale seniors Shane Bannon, Tom McCarthy, Adam Money and Sean Williams) and (Yale''s head strength and conditioning coach) Emil (Johnson) and wait to see if there is any feedback."

While Blohm took part in every drill, Bannon, McCarthy and Williams picked their spots since all three had strong performances at other pro days.

"It's hard when you are an Ivy League guy," Yale defensive line coach Duane Brooks said. "I think all these guys can get in (camps). Tommy had the breakout at Fordham's (pro day). Blohm had a great day today and Bannon (Wednesday in Tolland). The question is can they get into a camp. The Jaguars and Miami are in the (Yale football) office. Tommy's going down to Jacksonville, Blohmer is probably going to San Francisco at some point. Detroit called, Atlanta called because when your numbers hit, people want to be involved. Money is a wild card guy. He is a guy who can do a lot of things and it's something he didn't think about before. It is a lot to think about. I think Tom (Williams, Yale's head football coach and a former assistant coach with the Jaguars), the way he talks to us, the way we practice it gives you a feel of what that life can be if that's what you want. Who thought about Shane Bannon (as an NFL prospect) and all of a sudden he is on the radar."

McCarthy's stock has been soaring since a standout effort at Fordham's pro day earlier this month. Before leaving on Thursday, McCarthy gave Liipfert his e-mail address, a pretty good indication that the Patriots are interested. Jacksonville and the Giants head the teams who have reached out to McCarthy and he is expected to have private workouts for both teams next month.

Bannon had a strong effort on Wednesday at a pro day in Tolland highlighted by a 4.69 clocking in the 40 and testing out well in the agility drills as well. He made a brilliant one-handed catch during pass receiving drills on Thursday.

"It is kind of a relief," Bannon said. "It is kind of emotional being here doing this after all this time. It is something we dream of and the fact that we got to do it was pretty awesome. For my size, my numbers are right where I wanted them to be. I am pretty pleased what I was able to do and accomplish these past couple of days."

Former Xavier High star Shea Dwyer, who set Wesleyan's single season record for rushing yards, as well as Southern Connecticut State defensive back Richard Kirkland also took part in the pro day on Thursday.

Yale will be having its junior pro day on Saturday with quarterback Patrick Witt, running back Alex Thomas, defensive linemen Jake Stoller and Pat Moran and linebacker Jordan Haynes expected to go through many of the same drills their former Yale teammates went through on Thursday.

Yale officially released its spring practice schedule and it will begin on April 4 and wrap up on Apr. 23 at 2 p.m. with the spring game which will start at 2 p.m. at the Yale Bowl.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Time to catch up

This is kind of the calm before the storm with spring practice just under three weeks away from starting but I do have some news to deliver.

Yale did get a commitment from John Dunion, an offensive lineman from Dos Pueblos High in Santa Barbara, Calif. Dunion is 6-foot-4, 260 pounds who was named to the CIF Southern Section's All-Western Division first team. Here is a link to a page with two videos taken of Dunion. He is the seventh offensive lineman to commit to Yale.

It sounds like that will be the last commitment for a while and although there are some other candidates for Yale's incoming freshman class, there's a chance Yale could finish with the current 28 committed players.

I am hearing that Arizona is making a push for former Duke defensive lineman Tevin Hood. Hood, who walked on at Duke and appeared in four games as a freshman, has visited Yale and met with the coaching staff. However, at the current time it seems like Hood is giving serious consideration to accepting a scholarship to Arizona.

Spring practice opens on April 4 at Yale with the spring game on April 24. Former starting defensive lineman Pat Moran is back enrolled at school and will be taking part in drills. The biggest position switch is John Oppenheimer moving from defensive line to offensive line. Oppenheimer has some experience playing center in high school and the rising sophomore could contend for a starting spot since Yale wants to keep starting guard Gabe Fernandez where he is and Jeff Fell is expected to be in the running for a starting offensive tackle position.

Yale's pro day is March 24 with scouts coming to see fullback/h-back Shane Bannon, tight end Chris Blohm, defensive end Tom McCarthy, defensive back Adam Money and linebacker Sean Williams. Word of McCarthy's impressive workout at Fordham's pro day is beginning to spread as Yale football coach Tom Williams has heard from three NFL general managers. It's too early to tell if he will follow the path of Eric Johnson who went from sleeper to late round draft pick after strong workouts but if McCarthy improves on some of his numbers from the Fordham pro day, it's not out of the question that a team takes a flyer on McCarthy late in the draft.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Yale recruit honored

Bronxville (N.Y.) offensive lineman Stephen Shoemaker, who has committed to Yale, has been selected to the U.S. Air Force Small Schools All-American team.

The 6-foot-2, 301-pound Shoemaker led Bronxville to the New York Class C championship and was named the Class C Player of the Year.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

McCarthy impresses scouts at Fordham's pro day

Tom McCarthy, the captain of the 2010 Yale football team, opened the eyes of some NFL scouts at Fordham University on Tuesday.

McCarthy, who bulked up to 265 pounds since graduating from Yale in December, had strong showings in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump as scouts from 16 NFL teams were in attendance.

As a point of reference, if McCarthy had performed the same at the NFL combine, his 40 time of 4.72 seconds would rank 10th among the 25 defensive ends and 13th among the 25 linebackers. His 35-inch vertical would have placed him sixth among defensive ends and eighth among linebackers while his 10-2 broad jump would be third among defensive ends and fourth among linebackers. His results are extremely similar to Mississippi State's K.J. Wright and Michigan State's Greg Jones, a pair of linebackers who are rated among the top 75 draft prospects in some databases. McCarthy also benched 225 pounds 19 times, had a time of 4.48 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and did the 3-cone drill in 7.27 seconds.

"I think I was happy with my body weight," McCarthy said. "I played at 248 or 250 (at Yale) so to put on 15 pounds in those two or three months and still have good times and do well in the running and jumping, it was a really good sign."

Much like the Yale pro day last year, the number of participants made it challenging for the scouts to focus on all the prospects. However, as the scouts cut the list from the initial group of 31 to about 15 and then to about 8 or 10, McCarthy was impressive enough to be asked to work out until the very end.

"I got the sense that a lot of the scouts were pretty impressed," McCarthy said. "I think the scouts were looking at the tight end at Fordham (Stephen Skelton) but by the end of the day, I'd say I had some good conversations with the scouts. I don't know the number but there were several. I went through the defensive line drills. They had me in different linebacking drills because I don't really have the bulk to play as a defensive end in the 3-4 so in the 3-4 they project me as an outside linebacker. That was really the first time doing any drills from the standup position. I had a lot of fun with it. I just like fooling around and showing off my athleticism. I think it went pretty well, especially for a first timer reading, reacting, getting to the quarterback."

Speaking of the Yale pro day, it will be on Mar. 24 and unlike last year when players from throughout the East showed up, it appears as it will be limited to Yale players. McCarthy said that fullback/h-back Shane Bannon, tight end Chris Blohm, defensive back Adam Money and linebacker Sean Williams are planning to work out for the scouts.

"It's a chaotic process, everything is up in the air and dependent on workouts and the numbers that I put up," said McCarthy, who had 31 tackles and four sacks in seven games as a senior at Yale. "It is really a play it by ear situation and I have to take it day by day right now.

"I am kind of at a loss for words. My senior year, I never would have expected this. It is a very exciting process. A few years ago, if somebody told me I was going to be in this position, I would have told them they were crazy. I am enjoying the process, working hard towards my goal of playing in the NFL."

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Monday, March 07, 2011

Jauron on Hall of Fame ballot

Former Yale running back Dick Jauron, who was the Bulldogs' all-time leading rusher for nearly three decades and currently ranks fourth on the career rushing list, is once again on the 2011 College Football Hall of Fame ballot.

Jauron played for Yale from 1970-72 and finished with 2,947 rushing yards and was named the Ivy League player of the year as a senior in 1972.

Former Southern Connecticut State athletic director Darryl Rogers is also on a ballot as a coach as he posted a 129-84-7 record in stops at Cal State-Hayward, Fresno State, San Jose State, Michigan State and Arizona State.

The 2011 Hall of Fame class will be announced on Dec. 6.