National Football League scouts from the Washington Football Team and Houston Texans visited Utica College on Feb. 16 to meet with the Pioneers football team. Head coach Blaise Faggiano and three Utica College football players: Maki Medici, Kwasi Addo and Devin Bryant. All three players are expected to play next season for the Pioneers.
This meeting consisted of measurements for the player’s bodies in order to identify strengths and weaknesses. Due to COVID-19 protocols applied by the National Football League, the players were unable to conduct the Wonderlic test that consists of live running and strength training. Faggiano is expecting that the scouts will follow up with these three athletes after seeing the spring film.
“It’s exciting,” Faggiano said. “Every year I’m asked by the scouting services to submit guys who I think could play the next level and film takes it from there. They are going to look at the spring film. So, we’re hoping to put together some spring film for them in the next month and then you just never know what can happen.”
Medici, a senior punter and kicker for the team, is ecstatic for the eyes of the NFL to be on him throughout this year. He understands the dream is within reach. Now, he just has to seize it.
“It’s a dream, but at the end of the day, I’m not in the NFL yet,” Medici said. “I don’t know if I’m going to get there but I’m certainly going to try. It’s certainly a boost for my work ethic because I know that I have to push myself beyond anything that I’ve done before and I’m ready for it.”
Coming into the season a third-team specialist Preseason All-American according to d3football.com, Medici has very high expectations for himself. Last season he went 15-19 on field-goal attempts for 18.9 percent en route of the fourth-best field goal percentage in program history and ranked 15th nationally. He was also 31-35 on extra-point attempts. He led the team’s nationally ranked punt return with one of the longest hangtimes in program history.
Addo, a senior linebacker, has had his sights on the NFL ever since he was young. He believes that he showed his abilities early after being brought to be a member of the varsity team for the majority of his freshman season. Addo is a huge advocate for never giving up no matter what division of football one plays after. He believes he was overlooked by Division I programs for his size coming out of high school.
“This type of opportunity just shows that no matter who you are and no matter where you come from, as long as you work hard and you do everything that you’re supposed to do, then they’ll find you,” Addo said.
Last season, Addo led the Pioneers defensively in total tackles with 97. This was a culmination of his 41 solo and 56 assisted tackles. He also finished the season with 3.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for a loss, one interception and a fumble recovery. According to Addo, this season will be his best one yet.
“Just knowing that like you’re finally where you are at the cusp of where you want to be and having that in the back of your head all the time,” Addo said. “The way my mind works is it’s going to make me work ten times harder and go ten times crazier.”
Bryant, a senior defensive back, hasn’t been able to hit the field much in his collegiate career with the Pioneers due to injuries but the submitted tape gave the scouts enough looking at his athleticism. Bryant hasn’t played since 2018 where he played in two games and recorded three tackles. The Pioneers are looking to gather a large sum of the film on Bryant over the course of both the spring and fall.
Faggiano had nothing but praise for his players in regards to this unique opportunity. His main point of emphasis was not their statistics but the leadership they demonstrate and their actions off the field.
“When the scouts called, they didn’t ask me one football question,” Faggiano said. “They asked me about leadership and character. These guys have made such a positive impact on our campus and I think that’s one of the things that we saw in recruiting. Opposed to some big large university where you’re just a number, you come to a place like Utica College where you are able to have a great education and really make an impact.”