College area scout Todd Brunner continues to share his weekly blog from life out on the road searching for NFL prospects.**
I left off last week with my drive over to Marshall. So I went in there on Monday and met with the head coach, the assistant coaches and watched tape. They've got five prospects who I looked at while I was there, and they've got some opportunities to be in camp next year.
It was an interesting time to visit there because there's a lot of buzz about the movie that is coming out in December, called "We Are Marshall."
The movie starts off right after the real life plane crash at the end of the 1970 season when the entire team perished. The movie stars Mathew McConaughey who plays the coach who took over the team in '71.
The team got a private screening of the movie and said it was phenomenal. It was interesting because over the weekend they were playing East Carolina. That was the trip home when they had the crash, and it was the first time they were going to fly to East Carolina since that had happened.
At any rate, I left Marshall andI then drove up to West Virginia and went in there on Tuesday morning which was my second visit there. I wanted to watch some more tape and to solidify my grades on their players.
That afternoon, I headed over to Pittsburgh, which was also my second visit to watch some of their more recent games on tape. It was only an 80 mile jaunt between the two schools which is an easy drive. That's why when West Virgina and Pitt play each other, it's known as the backyard brawl.
They've got a couple of players who are very, very interesting. You definitely can't overlook their quarterback Tyler Palko. He's athletic, a creative quarterback and one of the top in the country.
I left Pitt that night and drove over to Penn State so that I could get in there first thing Wednesday morning. Joe Paterno was still in the hospital when I was there, and he was not able to attend their game, the first time since 1977 that he was unable to be on the sidelines. I watched tape on all of their guys and talked to one of their coaches and got a better feel for some of their defensive players by talking to him. I was happy to see their Butkus award winner from last year, Paul Posluszny is playing a lot better. He's coming off a knee injury that he suffered in the Orange Bowl last year. Lately, he's shown signs of why he was the award winner, and he's also been nominated again this year as a finalist.
I drove back home first thing Thursday morning to get back in time so that I wouldn't hit traffic going back out for the Rutgers/Louisville game. That plan didn't work well. Normally, it takes me 45 minutes max to get over there, but it took me 2.5 hours to get there. Like I've said in the past, all the buzz for this game and the excitement was really incomparable. The first half I was in the press box, and then for the second half I sat with my brother-in-law and two of his friends. One of his friends was an overly enthusiastic fan, decked out from head to toe in Rutgers red, just like 85% of the stadium.
The game lived up to its billing. It was phenomenal and came down to the very end with Rutgers coming back and driving the field and kicking the game winning field goal. The kicker missed the first one but got a second chance because Louisville was offsides. I was right down there by the goalpost of that end zone for that field goal, and so I saw it go thru the uprights and the stadium went berserk. The excitement is just amazing in this area. Rutgers paraphernalia is popping up everywhere. I went to my kid's soccer game and everyone had Rutgers shirts and hats on. Coach Schiano is turning into a big time local celebrity around here.
On Friday, my kids had the day off of school so I was Mr. Mom. I had a busy day on the phones because everyone was calling about the Rutgers game. Tom Gamble from the office called, being East Coast guys, we have to chat about eventful stuff like this.
Saturday, I went to go see my old high school play in the first round of the playoffs. My best friend is actually the head coach, so I wanted to support him and my alma mater. Unfortunately, they lost 19-14.
On Sunday I made the drive down to Charlottesville, Virginia where I'll be making camp for the next several days. I listened to our game on the drive down which is going to become a tradition because the last two weeks I've done this, we've gotten wins. At halftime, I always speak with one of our other college scouts, Justin Chabot, and then we talk again after the game to discuss what happened in the second half. You very much get nervous listening to it because you have to listen to them tell you what happens instead of seeing the play develop. Also, since the last two weeks have come down to a final drive by the opponent, it's been very nerve wracking. I'm sure our fans feel the same way!
Hopefully, I don't have to sweat it out until the final seconds when we play Seattle this week!
- Todd Brunner