By Chris O'Donnell
---- — Joe Clancy never had that ‘a-ha!’ moment where it occurred to him that he has a shot at playing professional football.
Maybe it’s because he is just a process-over-product guy and is consumed by what he needs to do to make that happen. Or, maybe it’s just not his way.
Probably a combination. Division II quarterbacks don’t usually get these kinds of opportunities.
Clancy, the Newburyport native fresh off a dream senior season at Merrimack College, is in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at the Bommarito Performance Training Center. He is the sole Division II player among a dozen NFL Draft hopefuls – from schools like Alabama, Florida State, Missouri and Auburn – fine-tuning every conceivable facet of his game.
Clancy is not unlike other college graduates, looking to solidify a career.
“It’s gone well so far,” said Clancy, who earned his finance degree last fall. “I really don’t think about how I’m rated. I’m just thinking about the things I can control.”
That means digging deep with the specialists at Bommarito to identify and correct even the slightest flaws in his game. Clancy is one of two quarterbacks at the camp, along with James Franklin of Missouri, which is in the second of six weeks.
He talks about improving the intricacies like dropping back properly, using his whole body to throw, when and what to have for meals. He treats it much like a workday and expects to come away a new quarterback, a new man.
“There are coaches for every position here,” he explained. “There are strength coaches, speed coaches, experts on nutrition, everything.”
There are some big names among Bommarito alumni: Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo. There are currently 65 Division II alumni on active NFL rosters, but no quarterbacks.
Merrimack head coach Dan Curran was the Warriors’ offensive coordinator for three years before accepting the head post a year ago. He spent eight years playing professionally, which includes stints with Seattle and New Orleans.
Curran’s office has become more like a UPS hub in recent years – he’s sent game clips and highlights to scouts from all over. He’s taken calls from more than half the teams in the NFL and said that “four or five have shown significant interest.”
“This is a kid who threw 48 touchdown passes in 11 games,” Curran noted. “We run a complex offense, very QB driven with a lot of moving parts. He has the ability to make quick decisions and be accurate. And he handles it so easy.”
Curran said Clancy is the No. 2 rated quarterback in the Northeast, “and that includes BC and Rutgers.”
Clancy reminds Curran of Matt Hasselbeck, whom he got to know during his days with Seattle. “They don’t just have the same body type, but also the footwork, the delivery, even his personality,” Curran said. “That’s a pretty good comparison.”
Clancy’s spring is filling up fast. Following his stay at Bommarito, he hopes to spend a week in New York working with former Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler. He is also planning his own ‘Pro Day’ at Merrimack, where NFL scouts can watch him in an assortment of drills. He also plans to attend another at Harvard.
There are other combines he hopes to attend, with which his agent, Marc Lillibridge, is arranging. And of course, he hopes for a phone call sometime around May 8-10, the dates of the NFL Draft.
“I’ve always watched the draft as a Pats fan,” he said. “I’ve thought about it, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”
Again, process over product.
Of course, making a NFL roster is the goal, but if it doesn’t happen, there are other options like the Canadian Football League or the Arena Football League. The CFL draft will follow the NFL’s.
“There are so many good football players out there, but there is not enough room in the NFL,” Clancy said. “It’s an exclusive group. But if you do well enough, they’ll find you.”
Notebook: Newbury’s Latham named captain at Wisconsin
Junior Deanna Latham (Newbury), a track and field standout we featured in these pages last week, was named captain of the University of Wisconsin track and field team last week … Latham’s former teammate, Taelour Murphy (Salisbury), a junior at UMass Lowell, won the 200 meters (24.33) and placed second in the 60 meter dash (7.65) at the Boston University Multi-Meet last weekend.
Gabrielle Sergi (Newburyport), a senior swimmer at Bates College, achieved a pair of season-bests in dual meets against Bowdoin and Colby last week. Sergi clocked in at 24.47 for the 50 meter freestyle in a 168-130 win over Bowdoin and 54.07 to place first in the 100 freestyle in a 203-90 win over Colby. With the wins, Bates captured the CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) championship.
Senior Erin McNamara (West Newbury) scored 20 points in Southern Maine’s 75-64 loss at Eastern Connecticut Jan. 18 … Shawn Kavanaugh (Georgetown) a sophomore on the Bridgewater State wrestling team, is second on the team in takedowns with six. Kavanaugh went 3-1 last weekend at the College of Mt. St. Vincent Open, advancing to the final in the 184-pound class.
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