/notables/2016/04/d3-draft-chances

NFL comes calling for D-III free agents


Photo by Dan Poel, d3photography.com

Wesley quarterback Joe Callahan, UW-Oshkosh tight end Joe Sommers, Wheaton tackle Matt Snebold and UW-Eau Claire guard Isiah Cage headline Division III’s free-agent signings after the 2016 NFL draft.

Following a banner spring of 2015 in which Division III football saw Hobart lineman Ali Marpet go in the second round to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Division III didn't do nearly as well in this year's draft. And that would be the norm, as just seven Division III players have been drafted, total, in the past decade.

The UW-Oshkosh student newspaper, the Advance-Titan, announced that UWO tight end Joe Sommers signed with the Chicago Bears immediately after the end of the draft. Wesley quarterback Joe Callahan has signed with the Packers.

Wheaton (Ill.) tackle Matt Snebold signed with the Atlanta Falcons, while UW-Eau Claire lineman Isiah Cage was picked up by the Colts. Tre Jones, the Mount Union cornerback, signed with the Chiefs, while Albright kicker Daniel Sobolewski signed with the Jets.

Concordia-Moorhead receiver Brandon Zylstra was invited to the Minnesota Vikings' camp, as was Dubuque offensive lineman Dominique Ravenell, while St. Thomas tight end Charlie Dowdle was invited to the Bears' rookie camp, Mount Union receiver Roman Namdar was invited to camp by the Bucs, Ohio Northern receiver Devon Price was invited to the Titans' camp, Lakeland receiver Michael Esiobu was invited by the Giants and Wisconsin Lutheran receiver Mitch Skarban was invited to rookie camp by Green Bay.

On the defensive side of the ball, Shenandoah defensive end Jake Payne was invited by the Jets, Utica defensive end Nick Woodman and Ithaca linebacker Schnayder Termidor were invited to the Giants' camp and Rowan linebacker Josh Popper got an invite from the Arizona Cardinals.

The signees: 

Joe Sommers, TE, UW-Oshkosh

Sommers had a solid workout at UW-Madison's pro day back in March after a Titans career that included two All-Region selections and an All-America nod in 2014. Sommers missed three games for the Titans this season and was held to one catch for 13 yards in his return, the playoff loss to UW-Whitewater.

Joe Callahan, QB, Wesley

At 6-1, 216, the Gagliardi Trophy winner and D3football.com first team All-America selection at quarterback, Wesley's Joe Callahan is a little undersized to play quarterback in the league but the Packers have expressed interest in him.

Matt Snebold, T, Wheaton

At 6-4, 300, Matt Snebold, a third-team D3football.com All-America selection at tackle from Wheaton, has an outside shot at getting drafted, at least according to one draft service. Before Marpet's selection last season, the last time a D-III lineman was selected in the draft was in 1996.

Isiah Cage, G, UW-Eau Claire

Cage might be the best sleeper among Division III football NFL prospects. Coming from a program that had a dismal 0-10 season, Cage nonetheless turned heads at UW-Madison's pro day and stands 6-3, 313.

Tre Jones, CB, Mount Union

Jones, a second-team D3football.com All-America selection at cornerback, ran a 4.56 in the 40 at his pro day at Akron. He intercepted just one pass last season as teams threw away from him, but he broke up 13 passes for the national champion Purple Raiders.

K Daniel Soboloweski, Albright

Sobolewski was named a first team All-American by D3football.com after making 15 of 21 field goal attempts and converting 49 of 51 extra point attempts. He tied his own school record by connecting on a 52-yard field goal against Stevenson.

Generally about a half-dozen Division III players sign free agent contracts after the draft in any given year. Others are invited, unsigned, to rookie minicamps. Others are brought in as camp arms or camp wideouts to help teams look at other players they consider better prospects, but any chance to get looked at is a positive one.

Previous draftees, from 1990 onward:

Year Player, pos., school Team Round-overall
2015 Ali Marpet, OL, Hobart Buccaneers 2-61
2012 Chris Greenwood, CB, Albion Lions 5-148
2011 Cecil Shorts, WR, Mount Union Jaguars 4-114
2008 Andy Studebaker, DE/LB, Wheaton (Ill.) Eagles 6-203
2008 Pierre Garcon, WR, Mount Union Colts 6-205
2007 Michael Allan, TE, Whitworth Chiefs 7-231
2007 Derek Stanley, WR/RET, UW-Whitewater Rams 7-249
2003 Ryan Hoag, WR, Gustavus Adolphus Raiders 7-262
2002 Tony Beckham, CB, UW-Stout Titans 4-115
2002 Michael Coleman, WR, Widener Falcons 7-217
2000 Tim Watson, DE, Rowan Seahawks 6-185
1999 Clint Kriewaldt, LB, UW-Stevens Point Lions 6-177
1997 Bill Schroeder, WR, UW-La Crosse Packers 6-191
1996 Ethan Brooks, OL, Williams Falcons 7-229
1992 Nate Kirtman, DB, Pomona-Pitzer Cowboys 9-248
1992 Barry Rose, WR, UW-Stevens Point Bills 10-279
1991 Pete Lucas, OL, UW-Stevens Point Falcons 10-258
1991 Larry Wanke, QB, John Carroll Giants 12-334
1990 Chris Warren, RB, Ferrum Seahawks 4-89
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D3football.com Top 25, preseason

The D3football.com Top 25, entering the 2019 season. This is the 17th season of the D3football.com Top 25.

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1 Mary Hardin-Baylor (24) 15-0 624
2 Mount Union (1) 14-1 599
3 St. John's 12-1 566
4 UW-Whitewater 12-1 555
5 North Central (Ill.) 10-2 482
6 Johns Hopkins 12-2 457
7 St. Thomas 8-2 414
8 Muhlenberg 11-2 405
9 Hardin-Simmons 9-2 397
10 Bethel 11-2 396  
11 Whitworth 10-1 336  
12 Linfield 7-2 291  
13 Brockport 11-1 230  
14 Delaware Valley 9-2 223  
15 Illinois Wesleyan 8-2 197  
16 Berry 10-2 190  
17 John Carroll 9-2 168  
18 Wittenberg 9-1 162  
19 RPI 10-2 152  
20 Centre 10-2 137  
21 Washington and Jefferson 9-2 132  
22 Wheaton (Ill.) 8-2 109  
23 Wabash 9-1 105  
24 Randolph-Macon 9-3 91  
25 St. Norbert 10-2 83

Others receiving votes: Trine 73; UW-La Crosse 71; Wartburg 61; Wesley 59; Washington U. 58; Montclair State 49; Alfred 48; Ithaca 42; UW-Oshkosh 40; Central 29; Case Western Reserve 25; Baldwin Wallace 20; Salisbury 15; Trinity (Texas) 10; Hope 10; Redlands 6; Marietta 3; Trinity (Conn.) 3, MIT 2.

The D3football.com Top 25 is voted on by a panel of 25 coaches, Sports Information Directors and media members from across the country, and is published weekly. Points are awarded on a 25-24-23-22-etc. basis.