Area scout Todd Brunner is back for year three of his popular Brunner's Blog. Find out what he's been up to while he travels the East Coast looking for future 49ers draft picks.**
Last Friday night I was watching Holy Cross play Harvard. It was Harvard's home-opener and it was the first Friday night home opener in school history.
From what I saw, both teams had some good football players. I was looking at the quarterbacks on both teams and they both played well. Whether or not the guys have a chance to go to the next level, we'll have to see. As they progress, it's a little tougher to make the climb to the National Football League from the Ivy League level, but both of those kids had the arm strength and the physical ability to do it, so we're going to have to see how their years go.
It's a little different when you are evaluating talent at smaller schools, but really what you want to see is athletic ability and if they can dominate at the level of play that they're at. That's what makes guys standout. A perfect example would be Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, who attended Villanova University. He dominated at that level, year in and year out, and he's gone on to do the same thing at the Eagles.
One of our own players, Zak Keasey was a standout linebacker at Princeton. And he obviously had the athletic ability to play in the NFL, because he's our starting fullback right now.
At that level, you'll see some guys have the athletic ability and football fans should know, just because they're at a lesser-known school, once they get to the NFL and get the coaching, the plan is that they become even better than you originally thought. So, it's our job to go out and find those guys.
After I watched the game at Harvard, on Saturday I went and saw Central Florida play at Boston College. I had ten guys on my list of seniors at Boston College to take a look at in the game. There are a couple defensive linemen, two linebackers and a defensive back who are considered prospects, as well as a couple offensive linemen.
Chris Crane, who backed up the Falcons first-round draft pick in quarterback Matt Ryan, was also on the list as well. You could see there was a little bit of a drop off from Ryan to Crane, but with some time, Crane has a chance to get better. Everybody was a backup at one point, even New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was splitting time at Michigan during his senior year. Everyone has to pay their dues, and once you get out there, you have to show everyone what you can do. Coming behind Ryan, he has big shoes to fill, but he's playing well. They won the game 34-7, and like I said, he has a chance to become a good player.
I hadn't been to a game at Boston College in years, so I really enjoyed being there. Plus, it was my first exposure this season to both teams and I really got a good feel for their players.
On Sunday, I went and saw a game at Yale in order to take a look at their running back Mike McLeod, who is about to become their all-time rushing leader in school history. He'll be one of the top two or three to play in the Ivy League, behind Ed Marinara, who was a Heisman Trophy winner.
I went to Brown University on Monday to check out a tight end, who they likened to former 49ers tight end Eric Johnson. They have some similarities between the two, but the big difference is that this kid plays tight end, while Johnson played wide receiver in college. As far as pass catching goes, Johnson was more advanced coming in than this kid. But he did show the ability to block, so I think we'll be seeing him in the future.
On Tuesday, I went over to the University of Connecticut. They are 3-0 and are having a very good year so far in the Big East. They were Co-Big East champs last year with West Virginia, and I think a lot of people forget that. They're a very good football team, they're undefeated and they're flying high over there. There's a very positive attitude over there, and great facilities too. They're not just a basketball school anymore – that's for sure.
As for this upcoming weekend, I'm going to be taking the weekend off. I've been gone every weekend this month and I've been gone this month all but three days. I'm happy to say that I'll be devoting this weekend to my family and spending time with them. It's not often that I get to go to my son's soccer games, but I'll be doing that this weekend. Spending time with him, my daughter and my wife, is always nice for me.
Although I'll be with my family this weekend, I'm really hoping to catch the 49ers game in New Orleans on Sunday. I checked our TV ahead of time to see if it would be on, but it's not on the East Coast, so I may have to find a place to go watch it. Fortunately for us, the Giants and Eagles are not playing, so I was hoping we'd get their time slot, but right now it looks like it's going to be Arizona versus the Jets and Green Bay at Tampa Bay. So, I'll more than likely go find a somewhere that has all of the games on so that I can watch it.
You'd love to be 3-1after this game. Personally I know a lot of people won't say it, but I think the next five games will tell us what kind of year we're going to have. We play five pretty good teams with New Orleans, New England, Philadelphia, the New York Giants and Seattle again. I mean that right there is going to be a tough stretch of the schedule. If we can get through that unharmed, then we'll feel really good about ourselves.