College area scout Todd Brunner is back for year two of his Brunner's Blog. Last time we heard from Brunner, he was getting ready to leave the 49ers Training Camp and return home to New Jersey. Find out how his first few college visits have gone so far, and what he's found….**
Since leaving training camp, I had a few weeks before really getting going last week out on the road. I did attend a practice at Rutgers just to get a chance to see the guys live. I'm planning to see them play quite a few home games this year, one because it's close to my house and it's a great opportunity to really get to know those kids, and secondly, most of their opponents are schools I have to scout anyway so it's giving more chances to see those schools live as well.
I officially got out on the road last Monday, hitting West Chester University, a small D-II school in Pennsylvania. I looked at the same exact player, running back Osagie Osunde, who I looked out last year because the NCAA ended up granting him a medical redshirt, so he's got another year of eligibility. He had a brother who played in the NFL for the Browns. He's a very productive back for them, he runs well, and he helped them to go the playoffs last year. They are hoping to repeat and be a force in the PSAC and they'll look for him to help make that happen.
In the afternoon, I headed on over to Villanova to check out tight end Matt Sherry. He's a kid who has size, decent speed, is very strong, and is a good blocker. He was worth the trip and will warrant a second trip later in the year.
On Tuesday I drove to Kutztown and watched tape there. It's another PSAC school that had three players I needed to take a look at who could be potential prospects. From there, I drove up to Bloomsburg and watched tape in the afternoon on a running back they've got there who is one of the top players in the state in that conference, again which is the PSAC.
Even though it's a small Div II conference, each year there are players drafted from that conference who are starting and playing in the NFL. Two years ago, Bloomsburg had an offensive lineman drafted by the Saints in Jahri Evans, who is now their starting guard. IUP is also in that conference, and although I won't be going there until later in the fall, they are a school that has been very fruitful in putting players in the NFL. I'm sure that's pleasing to two of our coaches in Jim Hostler and Frank Cignetti who both played and coached there.
Wednesday took me to Connecticut, first up to Yale which marked my first swing by an Ivy League school this fall. I took a look at three guys, two of which are from California. They've got a tight end, Langston Johnson, actually from Palo Alto in fact. Yale also has safety Nick Solakian who is from Southern California. He was going to be a senior last year but had shoulder surgery prior to the start of the season. In the Ivy League, you can't redshirt but you can sit out of school for a semester so that's what he did. During his semester off, he lived out in Southern California and worked out. He really got in great shape and at 6-1, 220 pounds, he really stands out because you don't see players of his size usually at the Ivy league playing safety. I also watched tape on defensive lineman Brandt Hollander. I happened to be there the day they did their testing, and he was excited because he had benched 480 pounds. So, he's obviously very strong. It was a productive day, and I was glad for the chance to see them live. It's good to know that the program has smart guys who can really play football.
On Thursday I visited UCONN. They finished up their new football buildings this spring and just put the final touches on it over the summer in terms of hanging up pictures and last minute stuff of that nature. It's got to be if not the, one of the best football facilities in the Big East. It's beautiful and rivals any facilities in the country.
I looked at a handful of players there and I'm scheduled to see them play live twice this fall. There are a couple of players I like and who I think have promise so I'll want to see more of them in the upcoming season.
After leaving UCONN, I made the drive home to Jersey which should have been a max of four hours, but it turned into seven because of New York City traffic. I talked on the phone with my wife and kids and let them know there was no way I was making it home for dinner because my car was in park. I had timed it so that I'd cross the George Washington Bridge around 2:45 but I didn't cross it until about 6:20, so things went way off track. At least I was headed home and not on my way out!
On Monday, I drove down to the University of Delaware – they've got a QB who transferred from the University of Pitt two years ago. They've been raving about this kid the last two years. Every time I've been in there, they tell me he's going to be unbelievable, and after going in there, the kid does have a chance.
I then went over to Dover, Delaware and went to Wesley College, my first time ever at that school. I needed to take a peak at a couple of players who made it on to our prospect list. They could have a chance if they have very productive seasons.
This morning I went to Delaware State to look at just a pair of players but their coaches feel they have a pretty good team with a few other players who warrant consideration so they asked me to take a look at them. They are a good football team and they will be a school that I'll go back into once they've played a few games.
I'll be hitting Eastern Pennsylvania later this week and also going to my first couple of games this weekend. I'll check back in a few weeks to give you some highlights of my trips. I have yet to be at a school with any other NFL college scouts, but I'm bound to cross paths with some of them soon. So far, it's been a solitary time out on the road.
One thing different for me this fall is that I have changed my whole eating habits since doing that triathlon, but this is the time of the year for scouts where you can really put on pounds by eating out all the time. I'm trying to make healthy selections. I've also been getting my morning run in, and sadly have cutback on my go-to caffeine fix with Diet Cokes. So far that's going very well, but we'll see as the season wears on.