May 3, 2012
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - The Patriot League was not represented in the NFL Draft for the first time since 2009, but a handful of former standouts will get their chance to shine at the next level after signing free agent deals.
Two inked deals with the Kansas City Chiefs, as both Colgate running back Nate Eachus and Holy Cross defensive back Chandler Fenner are on their way to the AFC West squad. A third player to sign as an undrafted free agent will also be in the AFC, with Fordham running back Darryl Whiting heading to the Tennessee Titans.
Just prior to attending mini-camp with the team, Holy Cross offensive lineman Mike McCabe was signed to a free agent deal by the Green Bay Packers on May 11.
Despite an injury-plagued senior season, Eachus goes down as one of the top running backs in Patriot League history. He was an FCS consensus first team All-American, Walter Payton Award finalist and Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2010 when he ran for 1,871 yards and 21 touchdowns. He finished his career with 4,485 yards rushing and 53 touchdowns, both ranking third all-time at Colgate and in the top five in Patriot League history. Eachus earned first-team All-Patriot League honors three times (2008-10) and set the League record for most rushing yards in a game with 291 against Cornell.
Fenner started all 11 games at cornerback for the Crusaders this season. He was named first team All-Patriot League for the second straight year, in addition to earning second team All-ECAC honors. He ranked fourth on the team with 68 total tackles this season, including 56 solo stops, two quarterback sacks and three tackles for loss. Fenner also led the team with two interceptions and 14 pass breakups, in addition to forcing two fumbles. He finished the year ranked second in the Patriot League in passes defended, seventh in forced fumbles and 18th in total tackles. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Fenner totaled 158 tackles, four forced fumbles, two interceptions, three quarterback sacks and 18 pass breakups in 44 games played.
Whiting led the Fordham ground game last year, gaining 668 yards on 171 carries, an average of 3.9 yards/carry and 60.7 yards/game, with one touchdown. He was fourth in the Patriot League in rushing yards per game. He also caught eight passes for 37 yards last fall and had a pair of 100-yard rushing games. Over his four-year career, Whiting gained 2,131 yards on 476 rushes with 14 touchdowns. He ranks seventh on the Fordham career rushing yards list and fifth on the school's all-time rushing attempts list. He also recorded six 100-yard rushing games in his career, including a 251-yard performance against Georgetown in 2010, the third best single game total in Fordham football history.
Whiting was listed as one of five undrafted free agents to watch by CBSSports.com
McCabe was selected first team All-Patriot League in 2011, marking the third straight year he earned All-League honors. He started all 11 games for the Crusaders at left tackle, as the leader of an offensive line which paved the way for Holy Cross to average 22.9 points and 400.9 yards of total offense per game. McCabe and the offensive line also allowed just 21 sacks this season, while the team attempted 431 passes (just one sack for every 21.5 times the team dropped back to pass). During his time at Holy Cross, he played in 47 career games with 36 starts along the offensive line, including a streak of 34 consecutive starts to end his career.
Four former Patriot League players were active in the NFL last season. After being picked in the previous two NFL Drafts, Lehigh's Will Rackley will enter his second season on the offensive line with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fordham's John Skelton heads into his third year at quarterback with the Arizona Cardinals. Lafayette's Blake Costanzo has carved out a role as a special teams ace, and will enter his sixth NFL season in 2012. Costanzo signed with the Chicago Bears in the offseason after previously playing for the Buffalo Bills (2007-08), Cleveland Browns (2009-10) and San Francisco 49ers (2011). Fordham's Isa Abdul-Quddus made the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent at defensive back last season.
John Skelton's brother, Stephen, a former All-Patriot League tight end for Fordham, will also get a chance to go to camp with Arizona.