Friday, May 01, 2009

6th Round Draft Pick Don Carey: Almost a Mountain Hawk

Folks looking at whether Lehigh should offer athletic scholarship ought to look at the story of the 6th round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns, Norfolk State CB Don Carey. Why? According to this report, he almost was a Mountain Hawk:

“Coming out of high school I really wasn’t highly recruited as far as football. I had a lot of academic scholarships. I had financial aid to Yale, financial aid to Michigan, financial aid to Colgate, Lehigh, all kinds of schools, Patriot and Ivy League schools. I only had one football scholarship and that was Norfolk State. I really couldn’t afford to go to Yale. I’m honored that I received that acceptance letter and whatnot, but Norfolk State gave me the best chance to get a college education and still play football.”
Carey was a four-year starter for the Spartans and is planning to major in building construction technology (with a minor in architectural drafting) in May. He was Norfolk State's recipient of the Army Strong Award in 2007, given to the football player who best exemplifies community service and achievement on the field and in the classroom, and was a two-time (soon to be three-time) member of the Norfolk State and MEAC Commissioner’s All-Academic Teams.

Picture this: he doesn't get offered enough athletic aid to go to Yale, but Lehigh and Colgate instead come in and are able to offer him a full athletic scholarship. Might he have gone to Lehigh as an architectural student, provided NFL-caliber talent in our secondary while providing the Brown & White exactly the sort of scholar-athlete that the Patriot League strives to produce?

Might it have been for the want of a few scholarship dollars? Just the ability to put the name "scholarship" to the aid?

We'll never know now.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Lehigh Football Partnership

With all the Spring football reports, coverage of FCS Players in the NFL Draft and free agency, maintenance on the Facebook page, and a general blog spring cleaning in progress (do I really need to have the 2006 schedule still up on there?), I almost missed a very important announcement made by Lehigh's athletics department in the days after the Spring game.

It's the announcement of the Lehigh Football Partnership, an extension of the existing Lehigh Sports partnership:

“This is just a first step, and an exciting one, in a series of steps we have planned to build sport-specific partnerships for each of our varsity sports,” said Bill Griffin, Associate Director of Athletics. “The mission of the Athletics Partnership is to provide a framework and support system that will enable our former student-athletes to remain connected to their Lehigh sports program, and all who participated in it, in a manner that’s fun and impactful for the sport they played.”

Pete DeLuca ’79, a member of Lehigh’s 1977 National Championship Team, will serve as the Alumni Ambassador for the Football Partnership. “The Lehigh Football program is important to me, so if we can steadily build a strong Football Partnership, the football program will only benefit from the ongoing engagement and support of our football alums.”
It's an extension of Lehigh's "Forever Family" Athletics Partnership campaign, which already boasts 3,500 participants (full disclosure: even though I'm not a football alumnus, I'm a donor to the Partnership). The Football Partnership's aim is to reach out to former football alumni specifically to keep the connection alive with the University and the team.

If you're around the Lehigh football program for any length of time it's easy to see the bond with the groups of football alumni - in some ways, it's simply putting up a formal organization to support what football alumni have already been doing informally for years - through tailgating, coming back to campus for non-Lehigh/Lafayette games, and other activities. And it's not only teammates, either: it spans generations as well.

It seems like the organization has gotten off to a flying start - Pete has already set up five committee chairmen, and the weekend of the Spring game involved a gathering with coach Coen (called "Inside the Huddle II") as well as a postgame reception at Rust Pavillion.

With such pumped-up alumni, key organizers in place, and a large initial group of members, it's hard to see this as anything but a huge positive for Lehigh football. (I just hope they keep coming to Lehigh Football Nation and the Lehigh Sports Forum for news and information!)

Monday, April 27, 2009

No Patriot League Excitement in the NFL Draft

(Photo Credit: Colgate Athletics)

As expected, this weekend's NFL draft came and went without a single Patriot League name getting announced. Overall, only 15 football players from Football Championship Subdivision got drafted, making it a relatively light year for FCS draftees in general - and like the Patriot League, the Ivy League was completely shut out as well.

In terms of Eastern FCS schools, four players from FCS schools that faced Patriot League competition were drafted: Richmond DE Lawrence Sidbury (4th Round), Furman CB William Middleton (5th round), and Liberty RB Rashad Jennings (7th Round). (Lehigh didn't line up against any of these teams, though "That school in Easton lined up against - and beat - Rashad Jennings and Liberty.) Other Eastern FCS schools that had players drafted were William & Mary CB Derek Cox (3rd Round) and Monmouth (NJ) TE John Nalbone (5th Round).

Here's the list of NFL free agent signings of Patriot League players:

Colgate OL Nick Hennessey (Bills)
Colgate OL Steve Jonas (Lions)
Holy Cross WR Brett McDermott (Colts)

I fully expect to hear Georgetown DE Atefiok Etekuren will join an NFL team as a free agent shortly as well, as Colgate RB Jordan Scott.

And for good measure, other conferences:

Ivy League

Brown FB Colin Cloherty (Colts)
Harvard DE Desmond Bryant (Raiders)
Harvard QB Chris Pizzotti (Jets)
Yale LB Bobby Abare (Chiefs)

Northeast Conference

Albany P Chris Lynch (Browns)

Colonial Athletic Association

Delaware TE Robbie Agnone (Redskins)
Delaware DE Roland Talley (Packers)
James Madison OL Terrence Apted (Redskins) (Tryout)
James Madison DB Marcus Haywood (Saints) (Tryout)
James Madison QB Rodney Landers (Buccaneers) (Tryout)
James Madison DE J.D. Slotinsky (Redskins) (Tryout)
Maine LB Andrew Downey (Lions)
Maine DE/OLB Jovan Belcher (Chiefs)
Northeastern DB Cory Parks (Rams)
Richmond RB Josh Vaughn (Buccaneers)
UMass CB Courtney Robinson (Eagles)

More info as it becomes available.
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