We continue our review leisurely stroll through the college blogs of the teams our rookies played for over the last couple of years.
Virginia Tech's Gobbler Country: Danny Coale, WR
Chicagomaroon, one of the editor's of Gobble Country, put together a pretty extensive write-up on Coale in which he explains why Danny Coale is always open:
As for Danny Coale, I really don't have to go into a full on scouting report on him, but I will give a little overview. We all know what a terrific college receiver he was, and what a terrific pro receiver he has the possibility of being. He runs the best routes of anyone in this draft class (although maybe a push with Ryan Broyles), he is the best at knowing the holes in a defense, finding them and exploiting them, he has some of the surest hands of any player in the draft, and performed better than expected at the NFL Combine. The scary thing to consider is that Danny is still growing as a football player. If you think about it, Danny didn't really start playing at the level he's at right now until down the stretch his junior year. I mean who looked at Danny Coale his freshman or sophomore years and said "That guy is a pro receiver." If you did, hats off to you, but I won't claim I did.
Danny is also in a good situation in that he's playing with an experienced quarterback in a pass heavy offense. He also will have several established receivers to work with, which is a two-fold benefit. One, that allows the emphasis to be taken off Danny, which leads to more plays where Danny Coale is open (which we all know happens a lot on its own). It also means Danny will most likely be playing in the slot, which will help tremendously as he is at his most effective when running crossing patterns across the middle of the field, which is the bread and butter of the slot position.
As for a pro comparison, I think Danny compares to Wes Welker, and if he reaches that level obviously he will be one of the top receivers in the league. I give that comparison because of the traits that Danny and Wes Welker both share. Their soft hands, their route running and their ability to break down defenses with their knowledge of coverages. He also is a little more athletic than Welker.
Those traits will serve Danny well in the pro's, and hopefully Danny will be able to make an impact earlier than Welker did. But if he even nearly lives up to the comparison I have made for him, then we will be talking about him as one of the best Hokies ever to play in the NFL.
OU's Crimson and Cream Machine: James Hanna, TE
OU is a big school with lots of draft picks, so Hanna doesn't warrant much of a mention on this SBNation blog:
Hanna is a bit of a project at tight end for the Cowboys, but he OU fans know he has all the physical skills to be successful at the next level. He was either never really featured in the OU passing game or never stepped up his game enough to be featured, but tested better at the combine than any other player at his position. There also aren't many better in the league to learn from than Jason Witten.
But they do provide some interesting background on James Hanna in a different post:
Hanna grew up playing 6-man football in the state of Texas at Coram Deo. (I can't even imagine playing 6-man as this is what a normal flag football team looks like.) However, the thought that not many players go from 6-man to the next level he made the jump to Flower Mound, a 5A school.
His dream has been to play in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys but the jump from 6-man to 11-man was not as kind to him but he did adjust quickly. Hanna didn't realize the amount of talent he possessed as kids were more on his level while in 6-man he stood out amongst everyone. Hanna has great size and athleticism and had a ton to do with why he was drafted (knowing OU went away from involving the TE's in the passing game outside of being blockers).
What I assume to be a rival blog, the appropriately named blatanthomerism.com has a slightly more positive take on Hanna than the SBNation blog:
It's Hanna time in Big D. Jason Witten isn't getting any younger, and Martellus Bennett wasn't the answer. Hanna offers wide receiver speed in a tight end's body. He also blocks like a wide receiver. If Jerry Jones' plan is to transition to full-time spread along the lines of the Saints, Hanna has a chance to build a future in Dallas as a split tight end.
Montana's GoGriz.com: Caleb McSurdy, ILB
This is taken from the University of Montana's official athletics site:
McSurdy is Montana's highest ever NFL draft pick at linebacker, and just the second Griz player at that position to be drafted.
"I am just really thankful for the opportunity, period," McSurdy said via a phone interview Saturday afternoon from his home in Missoula; and then to go `America's Team.' They have a great football team and a lot of good linebackers. I have a lot of emotions - it's just awesome."
A 6-1, 250-pound middle linebacker from Boise, Idaho, McSurdy was one of the most prolific tacklers in school history with 293 career tackles, which ranks him 10th all-time. He played in 56 games and started in 25 in a row in his junior and senior seasons.
McSurdy had an exceptional season as a senior and was named a first team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association, The Sports Network, Associated Press, Phil Steele, and College Sporting News Fab 50. He was voted the Big Sky Conference's "Defensive Player of the Year" and was a first team all-league selection.
He was ranked fourth in the Big Sky and 45th in the nation in tackles with 9.36 a game, and he had 10 or more tackles in seven contests. He started all 14 games for the 11-3 Grizzlies in 2011 and was chosen Montana's co-recipient of the Steve Carlson Award (team MVP), and he also received UM's annual Golden Helmet (team's hardest hitter) award.
Memphis' gotigersgo.com: Ronald Leary, OT
For the final pick, we again turn to the team's official site:
A native of Baton Rouge, La., Leary (6-3, 325) played in 44 career games at Memphis and made 36 consecutive starts on the offensive line. Leary worked at left tackle much of his career, starting at that position in all 24 games through 2009 and 2010. He started the first six games of his senior season at left tackle, but was forced inside because of various injuries on the line. He then made the final six career starts at right guard. At the team's 2011 post-season banquet, Leary was recognized as a co-MVP and was selected as the Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Leary saw action on 781 offensive plays in 2011 and ended his career having worked 2,296 offensive plays from 2008-11. He was named to the All-C-USA second team following the 2011 season, and participated in the 2012 NFL Combine in February.
According to a story by Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com, the Cowboys were impressed with Leary at a private workout, but the organization was concerned about "a chronic knee problem."
This is from a feature last year, also on gotigersgo.com, titled: "Ron Leary: Protector."
"Big Ron" Leary was made for football. At 6'4 and 325 pounds, the senior offensive lineman is about as tough as one could imagine, which is why he doesn't fit the stereotype of one being raised as the only boy of seven children.
With five older sisters and one younger sister, some people might expect Leary to be somewhat of a softie. [...] Without brothers to roughhouse with, how did Leary learn to be an aggressive athlete?
"If you're going to protect people, you have to have that rough side," explained Leary. "If I wasn't going to be tough, who was?" Leary said he has a natural instinct to be protective of his sisters. "Every time I talk to them, I ask them about their boyfriends, if they do anything wrong," he admitted. "The way I grew up, when my father's gone from the house, I have to protect the household."
Maybe that has led to Leary's success at protecting the quarterback. "I've never thought of it that way," said Leary. "I guess there is a big similarity, because it's a lot about protection - protecting somebody you care about."
Leary originally followed his father's footsteps in his love of basketball. He recalled a time as a young teenager when strangers who saw him playing basketball in the driveway stopped to knock on his door to tell his parents that a kid his size should be playing football. But he kept on playing basketball, in the continuing protests of friends and complete strangers alike. He finally gave in, and joined the football team before his junior year of high school. Leary lettered in both of his seasons at Southern Lab High School, and did not allow a single sack as a team captain in his senior season. He earned all-state honors as he led his team to the Louisiana state semifinals.
In his freshman season at Memphis, Leary helped contribute to ranking 22nd nationally in rushing offense and 26th in total offense, while adjusting to four different quarterbacks due to injuries. At the end of the season, he was named to the 2008 All-Conference USA Freshman Team.
In 2009, Leary was part of the offensive line that gave way to just 17 sacks, which ranked third in Conference USA and 39th nationally. He also played with three different starting quarterbacks throughout the season. Throughout 2008 and 2009, Leary helped block for Curtis Steele, who had two back-to-back 1,000-plus-yard rushing seasons.
Last year, he protected two different quarterbacks, one of which who was a true freshman who passed for over 2,000 yards. He also aided Gregory Ray in rushing for more than 100 yards in two games.
Leary was awarded Memphis Offensive Lineman of the Year for the 2010 season at the team banquet. He also received the Spring Iron Tiger Award and the Leadership Award at this year's Blue-Gray game.