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FB : Seniors from 2010 season look to secure jobs in NFL

first_imgNEWPORT, R.I. – Chandler Jones receives a daily reminder to work hard. Each day he talks with teammates from the 2010 season that are now embarking on new careers in the NFL. They represent what Jones strives for.‘I talk to those guys almost every day just telling me about the whole draft process and (free agent) process,’ Jones said. ‘They’re just telling me to do hard work. Nothing is easy. I’m glad those guys are getting opportunities, and I’m excited for them.’After the player representatives agreed on and passed the new collective bargaining agreement July 25, the 2011-12 NFL season could begin. With it came the ability for former Syracuse players to finally sign with a professional team.Former SU running back Delone Carter and linebacker Doug Hogue, who were selected in the NFL Draft in April, inked deals with the Colts and Lions, respectively. They were joined in the NFL by four other members of the 2010 squad who all signed free agent contracts.Ryan Bartholomew signed with the Ravens, Jose Cruz and Derrell Smith with the Buccaneers and Andrew Lewis with the Jaguars.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textPunter Rob Long remains a free agent. Jones and Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone have both been in contact with Long, who was invited to try out for the Cleveland Browns Tuesday.‘During the summer, there were a lot of players that were still training and still up at Syracuse,’ Marrone said. ‘So I was able to see them, and they all looked good.’If the aforementioned players wind up making the final roster for their respective teams, it will give Syracuse 21 players in the NFL. It’s a number that has caught Jones’ eye.  ‘Since I began my career playing at Syracuse, I’ve never seen so many guys going to an NFL team. So it’s very exciting,’ Jones said. ‘And that should get more recruits. That’s one thing a recruit looks at is how many guys went to the NFL out of Syracuse. When they see that, that’s going to jack up our quality of recruits.’Smith, Collaros enter season as far and away top quarterbacks in conferenceGeno Smith shook off the notion that he could be a candidate for some hefty individual awards this season. There is nothing else the West Virginia quarterback can do when questioned about his Heisman Trophy candidacy, really.Smith acknowledged that he does hear the talk about him, but said it doesn’t affect him in any way.‘I’ve been hearing about that, but I’m not one of those guys that really strives on the individual aspect of the game,’ Smith said. ‘I’m more about winning, and I’m here for my teammates. If we have to run the ball every down, I’m good with it.’Among a crop of Big East quarterbacks that doesn’t provide much national buzz, Smith and Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros stand out. Smith has gained more national attention than Collaros entering the season, in part because of West Virginia’s new head coach, Dana Holgorsen.Holgorsen was the offensive coordinator for Oklahoma State a season ago. Under his tutelage, OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden threw for 4,277 yards and 34 touchdowns.Smith led the Big East in passing efficiency last season with a 144.7 rating, throwing for 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions. But he did throw for fewer yards and touchdowns than Collaros. Smith said he’s still working to become the best quarterback in the Big East — something he’s believed he could be since he committed to WVU.‘I’m not an arrogant guy or anything, but coming in, when I was being recruited, when I picked West Virginia, I felt that I was going to be the best quarterback in the Big East,’ Smith said. ‘And that’s what I work toward every day.’Collaros threw for a Big East-best 26 touchdowns and 2,902 yards last season, but also threw 14 interceptions as his Bearcats struggled to a 4-8 season.At his second consecutive and final Big East media day, the senior said he needs to cut down on interceptions for his team’s sake. He also wasn’t one to talk about individual awards, but cutting down on turnovers would put him in the conversation.‘Obviously, you don’t want to turn the ball over as a quarterback,’ Collaros said. ‘You’re putting your defense out there and hanging them out to dry. I also want to have a higher completion percentage; 58 percent is not a great completion percentage for a quarterback. I want to be around the 64, 65 (percent) area.’Pasqualoni goes back to schoolPaul Pasqualoni insisted it didn’t feel awkward or strange to be sitting across the room from the Syracuse table at Big East Media Day. The former Orange head coach is now in the same position with the conference defending champion, Connecticut, after spending six seasons coaching in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys.Pasqualoni coached SU from 1991 through 2004, finishing as the program’s second-winningest coach with 107 wins. He also took the Orange to four conference titles during its final years of prominence before falling into the doldrums of the league.Now, the Connecticut native and defensive guru is taking over a team that is full of question marks heading into the first week of training camp. Pasqualoni said at this point, he doesn’t know who his starting quarterback will be, which will be determined in a few weeks as training camp progresses. With inexperience at quarterback, the new head coach plans to run the ball as UConn did under former head coach Randy Edsall.‘The University of Connecticut has done an outstanding job of running the football in the last few years,’ Pasqualoni said. ‘We’ll continue to run the football. … We don’t have a lot of experience at the quarterback position. We have to build an offensive line first.’Defensively, the Huskies are in good shape with nine of 11 starters returning.Pasqualoni, who began his career as head coach at Cheshire High School in Connecticut, said although he enjoyed his time coaching in the NFL, the opportunity to return to the collegiate ranks in his home state was too good an opportunity to pass up.Said Pasqualoni: ‘To say I’m excited is a little bit of an understatement.’[email protected]@[email protected] Comments Published on August 1, 2011 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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