Names like Tyson Graham and Chris Streveler resonate with Coyote football fans, as the base has watched players like these cash in on their chance to play professional football. Each year as the season winds down, the question for Coyote fans is: Will any Coyotes play on Sundays in the near future?
This year, 27 of 32 NFL teams have made appearances at USD, the 28th arriving in Vermillion on Wednesday, according to NFL Liaison and outside linebackers coach Abdul Hodge. To put it simply, any player could be on an NFL scout’s radar, he said.
“A lot of times [NFL scouts and coaches] want to watch film, so we set them up in one of the position meeting rooms,” Hodge said. “We make sure to pull up all the game film. Sometimes they want offense, defense and sometimes special teams.”
The Coyotes football twitter page thanked teams on Twitter for visiting practices throughout the fall. These posts have featured teams like New England, Minnesota, Indianapolis and Dallas, among others.
Teams wanting to make a stop in Vermillion to scout player reach out to Hodge or Director of Football Operations David Milke. Hodge said scouts usually want to talk to position coaches for a better understanding of players’ abilities and personalities. Hodge tells seniors showing leadership capabilities at practices every day is crucial in the event a scout enters the building.
“They want to sit down with position coaches, our strength and conditioning coach and the head coach to get a little bit more information about what type of kid those student-athletes are,” Hodge said.
Nielson said he doesn’t acknowledge or change practices when scouts come to attend. Hodge said he doesn’t inform the individual players that are being scouted on the given day. Rather, he talks to all of the seniors about the potential.
Hodge played linebacker at Iowa and played for three teams during his four-year NFL career from 2006-10. Thanks to his experience in the NFL and the draft process, he feels he has a good sense of which guys have professional potential, he said. Above all, though, working with NFL teams is about honesty.
“I know the most important thing is to be truthful to those guys (the teams) because you want them to come back,” Hodge said. “You want to be honest and straight forward and direct. Because of my experience, I have a feel for who can play at the next level and who can’t. Sometimes they will come ask me that and I’m honest with them.”
While Hodge said he couldn’t specifically say who NFL teams are scouting, teams are interested in looking at a few positions in particular. Those positions were quarterback, defensive line and wide receiver. Quarterback Austin Simmons, defensive lineman Darin Greenfield and wide receiver Dakarai Allen headline the seniors at those positions.
Three games are yet to be played in the Coyotes’ 2019 season, but Hodge plans on trying to get the remainder of the NFL teams to Vermillion before season’s end.
Hodge is in his first season with USD, but he said his role as NFL liaison is far from over when the season ends.
“I will be setting up the Pro Day, making sure those guys know which teams are coming, what information they will be needing and the operation of the day as well,” Hodge said.
Streveler, who played quarterback in 2016-17 for USD, is now playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. Graham, a wide receiver and defensive back from 2013-16 is in the XFL with the Seattle Dragons after seeing time with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts.
Before both players made it to the Pros, they had scouts, pro days, combines and individual workouts to prove their skills. Players like Simmons, Greenfield and Allen have similar processes ahead of them.