Goss: Area’s Division I seniors may catch eyes of NFL scouts
October 24, 2012 8:24PM
Boston College linebacker Nick Clancy (Joliet Catholic) will play in the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game Feb. 2 and is a prospect for the NFL draft in April. | AP Photo
Updated: November 26, 2012 6:49AM
On the eve of Round 1 in the high school football playoffs, the thought occurs that several players we enjoyed watching in the postseason a few years ago may be paving the way for their shot at the NFL.
Cincinnati defensive end Dan Giordano (Lincoln-Way East), Northwestern offensive left tackle Patrick Ward (Providence), Illinois center Graham Pocic (Lemont), Boston College linebacker Nick Clancy (Joliet Catholic), Miami placekicker Jake Wieclaw (Lincoln-Way Central) and Princeton linebacker Andrew Starks (Plainfield North) all are seniors who have built potentially attractive resumes as April’s NFL draft rolls around.
Giordano has started all six games for Cincinnati (5-1) and has 11 solo tackles and 23 total, 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. He also has seven quarterback hurries and a forced fumble that a teammate returned 76 yards for a touchdown. Early on, he was ranked among the top 15 percent of senior defensive end prospects according to at least one draft service.
Ward has a similar draft ranking among offensive tackles and has been a key contributor to the potent offense at Northwestern (6-2). In addition, he is among 147 candidates for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Awards and a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which annually is presented to the most outstanding football scholar-athlete in the nation, considering an individual’s achievements athletically, academically and in the community. A mechanical engineering major, Ward was a Capital One Academic All-American in 2011.
Pocic has battled through injury problems for the Illini (2-5) and is the leader in the offensive line. He has demonstrated his versatility, starting at guard and center during his career.
Clancy is the leading tackler for Boston College (1-6) with 49 solo stops and 35 assists for 79 total, an average of more than 11 per game. He has broken up four passes.
Wieclaw has shaken off an earlier slump at Miami (3-4) and is 10-of-15 on field goals, with a long of 38, and 25-of-25 on extra points. He is the team leader with 55 points.
Starks helped Princeton (4-2) to a 39-34 win Saturday over Harvard, which gave the Tigers sole possession of first place in the Ivy League and ended Harvard’s nation-best 14-game winning streak. He leads the team with 31 solo tackles and 23 assists for 54 total. He has six tackles for loss.
Of course, other former area standouts we watched in the postseason during their high school days also are involved in D-I football.
For example, freshman linebacker Antonio Morrison (Bolingbrook) is in the regular rotation at linebacker for Florida (7-0), which is No. 2 in the BCS standings. He has played in all seven games and has 19 solo tackles and 24 total. He also has a tackle for loss.
Sophomore linebacker Jake Stockman (Joliet Catholic) has 15 solo tackles and 35 total in seven games for Buffalo (1-6). He has one sack and one tackle for loss.
Things have not gone well at Illinois, but redshirt freshman Josh Ferguson (Joliet Catholic) is No. 1 on the depth chart at running back. He has rushed for 210 yards and 4.0 average, completed his only pass attempt for 22 yards and caught 23 passes for 199 yards, an 8.7 average. Zak Pedersen (Joliet Catholic) is the regular long snapper for the Illini.
Zach Colvin (Minooka) is a sophomore defensive end at Bowling Green State (5-3), which has won four straight. He has played in all eight games and has made nine tackles (5 solo). He also has two quarterback hurries.
Ryan Ward (Providence) is on the roster as a freshman offensive tackle at Iowa, which is at Northwestern on Saturday. Ryan and Patrick Ward are brothers. The Northwestern roster also includes defensive back/kick returner Troy Sheppard (Providence), running back Tim Hanrahan (Providence) and redshirt running back Malin Jones (Joliet Catholic).
Pete Houlihan (Providence) is a junior cornerback at Eastern Illinois (4-3). He has played in six games and has 28 solo tackles and 46 total. He has four tackles for loss, a half-sack, four pass breakups, a quarterback hurry and two forced fumbles.
Western Illinois (3-4) has won its last two games and sophomore linebacker Kevin Kintzel (Lincoln-Way West) has contributed. He has started four games and played in all seven and has made 12 solo tackles, 28 total. He has five tackles for loss, one sack and one forced fumble.
The roster for Illinois State (6-2) includes freshman middle linebacker Pat Meehan (Lincoln-Way East). He has played in all eight games and made 14 tackles, including six solo and a half-tackle for loss. He has two quarterback hurries and one forced fumble.
Brandon Westphal (Bolingbrook) is a junior outside linebacker for the Redbirds and has made three tackles while appearing in all eight games. And freshman running back Nick Bellamy (Lincoln-Way West), has carried three times for a 3.0 average.
Northern Illinois (7-1) is riding a seven-game winning streak, and junior cornerback Dominique Ware (Bolingbrook) has played in all eight games. He has nine solo tackles, 13 total and has broken up a pass. Sophomore running back Cameron Stingily (Romeoville) has appeared in three games and made a tackle and freshman running back Perez Ford (Romeoville) also is on the Huskies’ roster.
On the coaching from, former St. Francis coach Mike Uremovich (Providence) is the running backs coach and special teams coordinator at Northern Illinois. And Jeff Monken (Joliet Central) is the head coach another powerhouse at Georgia Southern (6-1). The Eagles recovered from a 23-21 loss to Citadel in Week 2 and are ranked No. 2 in the Football Championship Subdivision.