Monday, April 30, 2012
A local slant on NFL free agent signings
By Scott Barboza
If you told Nick Schwieger four years ago that he’d have a shot at the NFL, he wouldn’t have believed you.
After becoming Dartmouth’s all-time leading rusher, the Bishop Feehan product and Norton native signed an undrafted free agent contract with the St. Louis Rams on Saturday.
“All I wanted to do was establish myself as a player [at Dartmouth],” said Schwieger during in a phone interview Monday after he finished an exam.
Schwieger admits he didn’t take a direct route to pro football, noting the perceived knock on Ivy League football. But after racking up 3,150 career rushing yards with the Big Green, he certainly made a name for himself.
Schwieger said he started to hone in on his NFL dream during junior year, when he was a co-recipient of the Ivy’s Bushnell Cup — its MVP award. Interest continued through his senior year and built in the pre-draft process. Schwieger said he’d been in touch with the Rams, along with the Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers before the draft. When the seventh round came and went, Schwieger became a free agent and immediately fielded calls with offers from the Bengals and Rams.
He settled on St. Louis citing several factors, including the composition of the team’s roster, coaches and the ability to run with one of the league’s preeminent backs.
“Stephen Jackson will be a great guy to learn from,” Schwieger said with a laugh. “I’m really looking forward to that. And Coach [Jeff] Fisher, you know what a great player coach he’s been for such a long time. It’s just a great opportunity.”
As Schwieger is finishing course work at Dartmouth, he will not be able to join the Rams until their June camps, after he’s graduates.
Then, his attention will turn to carving out a roster spot, whether that’s as a running back or a special teamer. For now, the former MIAA Super Bowl champion with the Shamrocks has time to reflect on what go him there.
“I definitely believe that Massachusetts football is on the rise, you see better and better prospects coming out every year and more and more people are making it [to the NFL]. Looking back, I probably took hard way, or the long way there, but that makes it all that much more rewarding.”
New Englanders signing with NFL teams: Here is a list of the players with New England roots who’ve signed undrafted free agent contracts with NFL teams. It should also be mentioned that former Nashua North (N.H.) standout and UConn product Kendall Reyes was drafted 49th overall (second round) by the San Diego Chargers.
Nick Schwieger (Norton, Mass.) RB – St. Louis Rams
Kevin Eagan (West Hartford, Mass.), DE – Indianapolis Colts
Taylor Allen (Westborough, Mass.), LS – Jaguars