UA football players head to pros
McCarty, Casale will test themselves in NFL and CFL
Published: Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Updated: Sunday, June 17, 2012 14:06
Former University at Albany star tailback David McCarty will be heading down to an NFL mini-camp on Friday. McCarty got the call from his agent last Saturday saying he was invited to a rookie mini-camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after watching the draft last weekend.
The call came from his Oregon-based agent, in Hawaii for his marriage, who asked if the Buccaneers had contacted him yet, and then said that the team had been trying to get a hold of him. McCarty said they hadn't but five minutes later they were on the phone.
"It's actually breathtaking," said McCarty, who is the Great Danes all-time leading rusher. "It took me a while for it to actually sink in but now that it's actually become a reality it's a great feeling."
The opportunity to show the Buccaneers what he's got is an enticing one for McCarty, who also reportedly drew interest from the New York Giants and the Atlanta Falcons.
"I really didn't think too much about the NFL after college. I was hoping to go into the Marine Corps after. Later on down the road in my senior year it became apparent that there was an opportunity and it's something that I had to work towards and I have been working on my speed and quickness," said McCarty, who is keeping the Marines as an option if the NFL doesn't work out.
McCarty is the Danes' all-time leader in yards gained, all-purpose yards and 100-yard rushing games with 24 in a four-year career at Albany.
Last season, he was hampered by injuries that limited his time on the field. They were enough to keep him off the field for most of what was his final game last November against Wagner. He realized he would need to recover and start training if he wanted to take advantage of the one shot that he craved from an NFL team.
McCarty responded by improving his speed, getting his 40-yard dash time down to 4.4 seconds from the 4.8 it had previously been.
"I've been working out so hard. I've been doing speed training almost three days a week for two hours a day. Working out, lifting, doing that two hours a day, every single day. I'm in the best shape I've ever been in," McCarty said.
McCarty said he thought that the NFL might be a possibility but wasn't completely sure of it.
"In the back of my mind all I wanted to do was get one shot, one opportunity to just prove what I could do. If that didn't come then I might have put football on the back burner and try to find a job," he said.
He said that the Bucs sent him an itinerary detailing what they planned to have him do at the mini-camp, which will feature around 70 players, about 40 of whom will be tryout players like McCarty.
The schedule features speed drills and mental drills designed to gauge ability on and off the field. They will be looking to see how he acquits himself at the running back position, where the Bucs feature veteran players Earnest Graham and former Giant Derrick Ward on the roster.
The invite from Tampa Bay is another feather in the cap of sorts for UAlbany, which has seen its football program produce two NFL players. Coach Bob Ford was proud to hear that another one of his players was going on to get a chance to play football beyond UAlbany.
"I think we're getting better kids," Ford said of the program. "The competition is very keen here and we've had some great wins that have helped us get better kids. We play upper-level consistently."
McCarty agreed about the program, saying that it is headed in an upward direction.
"The program is on the rise," McCarty said. "That's the one thing that I wanted to take out of UAlbany. I wanted to put it on the map. Hopefully, now that I've left these guys coming up can set the tone and hopefully develop this school into a major D-I AA program or sometime in the near future maybe something bigger."
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On Wednesday, Dave Casale signed a two-year contract with the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes, adding another UAlbany football player to the pro ranks.
Casale played four years at Albany, starring at free safety in his time here. He ranks 17th on the all-time career tackle list with 224.
In the 2009 season, Casale recorded 77 tackles on the year, including four for a loss. He also registered one sack, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
The 6'2", 230-pound Casale will go onto the CFL with a considerable pedigree. He was named a All-Northeast Conference First-Team All-Star his last two seasons at Albany and recorded the most interceptions by a Great Dane since 1990.
The Alouettes won the Grey Cup last season, the CFL championship with a victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in November.