BC alums faring just fine in throes of NFL offseason

Originally on Gavel Media

As the BC football team trains hard during its summer months on campus, several Boston College alum are doing the same in the NFL.gavel1

Some are trying to be in contention for the Super Bowl.

Some are trying to help their team get into the playoffs.

And some are new to the league and trying to get noticed for a spot on the season-opening roster.

Here’s a look at several BC alumni and updates on their progress through the summer months.

Matt Ryan

You can’t have an update on BC alumni in the NFL without this man.

Ryan got the evil-first-round-monkey off of his back when the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Seattle Seahawks in a thrilling first round matchup. Yet, Ryan couldn’t get to the Super Bowl when he went up against the muscle of Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers.

This year, it is clear anything but an NFC Championship will be a disappointment for Ryan and the Falcons. He is pleased with the Falcons acquisition of Steven Jackson at running back and having an extraordinary leader in Jackson can really complement Ryan’s lead-by-example demeanor.

Also, he may have a little extra “moolah” coming his way as the Falcons are looking to grant him a contract extension. If Joe Flacco’s deal is any indication of what’s to come for top quarterbacks in the league, expect Ryan to get big money as well.

Lastly – and a bit off-topic – he’s a big fan of what Luke Kuechly has been doing, as evidenced by this picture:

Screenshot by Teddy Kolva / Gavel Media.

Screenshot by Teddy Kolva/Gavel Media.

Luke Kuechly

Not only is Matt Ryan his number one fan, but Luke Kuechly is coming off a remarkable rookie season.

Last year, Kuechly led the league in tackles and his fine defensive performance during the regular season earned him Defensive Rookie of the Year. Even though Kuechly is not on a Super Bowl-caliber team, the Carolina Panthers have very high expectations for both Kuechly and Auburn product Cam Newton, who’s entering his third season at quarterback. They will be seeking, above anything, a playoff berth come January.

Entering offseason workouts, Kuechly hasn’t lost a step as his teammates are already praising his leadership on defense. NFL.com Senior Analyst Gil Brandt says Kuechly can be “the next Brian Urlacher/Ray Lewis.” If his rookie season is a harbinger of things to come, Brandt may be right.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 8.43.10 PM

Screen shot by Teddy Kolva/Gavel Media

There was a reason we always chanted “LUKE!” after every play he made – we knew he was that important and that good. Kuechly is still a perennial force on defense, a leader on defense, and given the high praise he is already receiving during workouts, his sophomore year in the NFL is shaping up to be even better than his initial campaign.

Mark Herzlich

The emotional leader of the 2010 Eagles is looking to claim the starting middle linebacker position for the New York Giants.

Herzlich’s story has been amazing and emotional to follow. After surviving cancer and continuing his football career, Herzlich signed as an undrafted free agent for the Giants in 2011 and made the final roster. That same season, Herzlich found himself in a sea of confetti as he celebrated the Giants Super Bowl victory against the New England Patriots.

This year, Herzlich wants the open middle linebacker starting spot and it’s looking like he will get it.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 8.45.22 PM

Screenshot by Teddy Kolva/Gavel Media

During OTAs and the first day of mandatory mini-camp, Herzlich was lined up starting as middle linebacker on the first-team defense. In essence, it’s Herzlich’s job to lose and having two years of experience as the back-up, Herzlich knows a lot more than his competition.

Imagine Herzlich starting on the field for the Giants during the season opener for a Super Bowl contending team on opening day in the same stadium where the Super Bowl will be held. While it may not top winning a Super Bowl, it can very well be a close second since he’ll be starting.

Emmett Cleary and Nick Clancy

After not being drafted in late April, Cleary signed as an undrafted free agent with the Indianapolis Colts, a move that can open the door to an eventual roster spot.

The offensive tackle position can be won over by anyone, but Cleary has the advantage of knowing starting tackle Anthony Castanzo, who was Cleary’s roommate at BC. Learning from him and being under his wing can benefit Cleary as he looks to make the roster.

Nick Clancy also signed as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons and joins fellow alumni Matt Ryan and Dominique Davis.

Clancy led the Eagles in tackles last season and impressed Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan during a rookie mini-camp in May. Mike Smith was quoted saying to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Clancy did a nice job in the special teams stuff and that’s really where those young linebackers are going to get their first opportunity to contribute.”

While the Eagles enter a new era this season, the legacy of the football program is alive and well in the NFL. Check back for more updates as teams entering training camp and preseason battles commence.

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