Aug. 3, 2012
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Four Patriot League alums were active in the National Football League (NFL) in 2011, and that presence could be doubled this season as eight players from Patriot League schools are competing in training camp with the preseason schedule starting this weekend.
The veteran of the group is former Lafayette linebacker Blake Costanzo, a special teams standout who begins his sixth season on an NFL active roster and first with the Chicago Bears. John Skelton (Fordham) heads into his third season with the Arizona Cardinals with a legitimate chance to earn the starting quarterback job, while offense lineman Will Rackley (Lehigh) is in his second year with the Jacksonville Jaguars and defensive back Isa Abdul-Quddus (Fordham) will play his second season with the New Orleans Saints.
Three recent Patriot League graduates are trying to earn their spot in the NFL, with running back Nate Eachus (Colgate) and defensive back Chandler Fenner (Holy Cross) both with the Kansas City Chiefs and offensive lineman Mike McCabe (Holy Cross) with the Green Bay Packers. Former Fordham tight end Stephen Skelton re-joins his brother in Arizona after spending time on the team's practice squad last season.
The Patriot League will be featured in the first showcase of the NFL preseason, as it will be a Fordham reunion when the Skeltons play for the Cardinals against Abdul Quddus and the Saints in the Hall of Fame Game from Canton, Ohio on Sunday at 8 p.m. on NFL Network.
The rest of the teams open up next week, which includes another Patriot League filled matchup when the Cardinals visit Eachus, Fenner and the Chiefs on Friday. Additional nationally-televised games featuring Patriot League alums include Green Bay at San Diego (Aug. 9, 8 p.m., ESPN), Arizona at Tennessee (Aug. 23, 8 p.m., ESPN), Chicago at New York Giants (Aug. 24, 8 p.m., CBS), Houston at New Orleans (Aug. 25, 8 p.m., CBS), Kansas City at Green Bay (Aug. 30, 7 p.m., NFL Network) and Denver at Arizona (Aug. 30, 11 p.m., NFL Network).
In addition to the NFL players, three former Patriot Leaguers are active in the Canadian Football League (CFL) this season. Linebacker Kevin Eiben (Bucknell) and offensive lineman Nick Hennessey (Colgate) play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, while defensive back Tad Korengay (Fordham) is a member of the Calgary Stampeders. Both teams have played five games thus far in the CFL season, with the Stampeders visiting the Tiger-Cats on Thursday.
More information for all of the NFL and CFL players is included below, along with links to bios and, if available, twitter accounts.
Patriot League alums in the NFL
Blake Costanzo, Chicago Bears, Linebacker - Costanzo was signed in the offseason by the Chicago Bears after playing for the San Francisco 49ers during the 2011 season. The former Lafayette linebacker earned All-Patriot League honors in 2004 and 2005, and went to camp with the New York Jets (2006 and 2007) before earning his shot on the field in Buffalo late in the 2007 season. He played with the Bills again in 2008 before heading to Cleveland (2009-10) and San Francisco (2001). He has emerged as a special teams standout at each location. In 61 career games, Costanzo has recorded 71 tackles on special teams with eight forced fumbles/fumble recoveries (four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries). He had both a forced and recovered fumble in the 49ers' 36-32 win over the New Orelans Saints in last year's NFL Divisional Round.
John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals, Quarterback - Skelton was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round (155th overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft. He has appeared in 13 games with 11 starts in his two seasons, and has thrown for 2,575 yards and 13 touchdowns in that action. Skelton threw for 1,913 yards and 11 touchdowns last year while leading the Cardinals to a victory in six of his eight appearances. The two-time All-Patriot League selection from Fordham holds school records with 9,923 passing yards, 69 TD passes, 802 completions, and 1,363 attempts.
Will Rackley, Jacksonville Jaguars, Offensive Lineman - Rackley was drafted in the third round (76th overall) in 2011, becoming the highest-ever pick out of the Patriot League. He started 14 games at left guard as a rookie to solidify a place on the line. Rackley was a four-year starter and three-time All-Patriot League selection at Lehigh, and earned numerous All-America honors as a senior in 2010.
Isa Abdul-Quddus, New Orleans Saints, Defensive Back - Quddus signed with New Orleans as an undrafted free agent in 2011, and after making the squad saw time on both special teams and defensive back as a rookie. He recorded 20 tackles and three forced fumbles in his first season while playing all regular-season and postseason contests for the Saints. Abdul-Quddus starred in the defensive backfield for Fordham recording 193 tackles, three sacks, three interceptions, and ten passes defended in his career.
Stephen Skelton, Arizona Cardinals, Tight End -Skelton was signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in 2011, and was added to the team's practice squad in November. He was a three-year starter alongside at Fordham totaling 127 receptions for 1,313 yards and 10 touchdowns in 40 games.
Nate Eachus, Kansas City Chiefs, Running Back - Eachus was signed after the 2012 NFL Draft as an undrafted free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs. The three-time All-Patriot League selection from Colgate enters training camp looking to make a spot on the roster at running back, fullback, or special teams. He graduated as one of the top running backs in Patriot League history with career totals of 4,485 rushing yards and 53 rushing touchdowns.
Chandler Fenner, Kansas City Chiefs, Defensive Back - Fenner was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs following this year's NFL Draft. The two-time First-Team All-Patriot League team member started all 11 games at cornerback for Holy Cross last season. He finished with his career with 158 tackles, two interceptions, and 18 pass breakups.
Mike McCabe, Green Bay Packers, Offensive Lineman - McCabe was signed by the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent following this year's NFL Draft. He was a first-team All-Patriot League selection for the third straight year in 2011. McCabe played in 47 career games with 36 starts along the offensive line, including a streak of 34 straight to end his career.
Patriot League Alums in the CFL
Tad Kornegay, Calgary Stampeders, Defensive Back - Kornegay has enjoyed a stellar career in Canada, as he competes in his eighth season and first with the Calgary Stampeders. He has played in four Grey Cup games during his career and has won championship rings in 2007 with Saskatchewan and in 2011 with British Columbia.
He has totaled 264 tackles, three sackes, and seven interceptions in his eight-year career. Kornegay recorded 14 interceptions at Fordham and was a two-time All-Patriot League selection as well as a consensus All-American in 2004.
Kevin Eiben, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Linebacker - Eiben began his career in 2001 with the Toronto Argonauts and has tallied 708 tackles, 15 sacks, 10 interceptions, and 11 fumbles in an outstanding 12-year career in Canada. He is a multiple-time CFL All-Star, including in 2004 when he helped Toronto to a Grey Cup victory. He played his first 11 seasons in Toronto before heading to Hamilton for the 2012 campaign. Eiben was an All-Patriot League selection during his senior season at Bucknell in 2000, when he was also named Patriot League Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Nick Hennessey, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Offensive Lineman - Hennessey is in his first season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after spending time in professional football since 2009, when he spent the majority of the year on the Buffalo Bills' practice squad and suited up in the season finale. He was a consensus first-team All-American as a senior at Colgate in 2008 to go with his two All-Patriot League selections.