Every kid who plays football grows up dreaming of making it to the NFL. Unfortunately many of those dreams are shattered in the early stages of their careers. The percentages who make it to the NFL drop off significantly after players from NCAA Division I, and Division III players face an uphill road, but there are those few fortunate players who make an impact early in their careers and end up playing professionally on Sundays.
Division III players have the toughest road because there are not a lot of ways to be seen by pro scouts at their level. There are four ways in which a DIII player gets a chance to make it to the NFL.
First, you have to participate in one of the “Big Three” college All Star games. They are the Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine game, or Texas vs. The Nation. Both Division III players that were drafted into the NFL in 2008 played in these games. Andy Studebaker and Pierre Garcon participated in the Texas vs. the Nation game. This year, Cecil Short, a wide receiver out of Mount Union (a DIII school), was selected in the 4th round 114th overall to the Jaguars. He participated in the East-West Shrine Game.
Second, NFL scouts will visit you to see how talented you truly are. For example, a regional or area scout may be sent to your school. Since DIII games are usually not on TV, it’s that much harder for a scout to actually get a look at a DIII player’s capabilities. Their coach may have to send out game film in order to catch an interest from scouts.
Third, you get invited to a Division 1A or FCS school’s pro day. This is where you get to perform for all the scouts that attend the event. Cecil Short’s Pro Day showing was at his own school, Mount Union mainly because Mount Union is a DIII power that just recently produced another NFL wide receiver, Pierre Garcon. Scouts that attended respected his pedigree, so they reached out to him. He was also invited to the NFL combine, where he performed pretty well.
Alvin Grier states, “In 2008, Andy Studebaker participated in Northwestern’s Pro Day. Pierre Garcon’s was at Mount Union, but like Cecil Short, he was invited to the NFL Combine and did well, running a 4.42. Michael Allan, who was drafted by the Chiefs in 2007, held his Pro Day at his home school of Whitworth, but like Pierre and Cecil, he was invited to the NFL Combine, and did well, running a 4.71 in the 40.”
Ultimately, your stats and measurements i.e. height, weight, 40-yard dash, etc.. need to measure up favorably with players in Division I and IA.
Below is a list of DIII players that have been drafted into the NFL:
|2012||Chris Greenwood, CB, Albion||Lions||5-148|
|2011||Cecil Shorts, WR, Mount Union||Jaguars||4-114|
|2008||Andy Studebaker, DE/LB, Wheaton (Ill.)||Eagles||6-203|
|2008||Pierre Garcon, WR, Mount Union||Colts||6-205|
|2007||Michael Allan, TE, Whitworth||Chiefs||7-231|
|2007||Derek Stanley, WR/RET, UW-Whitewater||Rams||7-249|
|2003||Ryan Hoag, WR, Gustavus Adolphus||Raiders||7-262|
|2002||Tony Beckham, CB, UW-Stout||Titans||4-115|
|2002||Michael Coleman, WR, Widener||Falcons||7-217|
|2000||Tim Watson, DE, Rowan||Seahawks||6-185|
|1999||Clint Kriewaldt, LB, UW-Stevens Point||Lions||6-177|
|1996||Ethan Brooks, OL, Williams||Falcons||7-229|
|1992||Nate Kirtman, DB, Pomona-Pitzer||Cowboys||9-248|
|1992||Barry Rose, WR, UW-Stevens Point||Bills||10-279|
|1991||Pete Lucas, OL, UW-Stevens Point||Falcons||10-258|
|1991||Larry Wanke, QB, John Carroll||Giants||12-334|
In addition, several other players currently on NFL rosters came from DIII as undrafted free agents. They are:
Jerheme Urban- Cardinals
Fred Jackson- Bills
Jason Trusnik- Browns
Matt Turk- Texans
Pierre Garcon- Colts
Andy Studebaker- Chiefs
Derek Stanley- Rams
London Fletcher- Redskins
Byron Westbrook- Redskins
Steven Hauschka- Ravens
Clint Kriewalt- Steelers
By Alex Short