NFL dreams?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 15, 2001

Sports Editor

With two games left in the 2001 season, Troy State University senior football players can start turning their attention to the future.

More importantly, their future as it pertains to football.

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The Trojans (5-4) host Jacksonville State (5-4) on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

At 2:30 p.m. Alabama and Auburn will take the field. Both schools are traditional top 1-A institutions, attracting some of the best collegiate, as well as future professional, athletes to their respective programs. The annual "Iron Bowl" is usually a showcase for that talent.

But TSU head coach Larry Blakeney said this weekend’s game between the Gamecocks and his Trojans could be viewed as the same thing.

"Obviously, both teams have a group of guys who are trying to play at the next level," he said. "The NFL is the big dog and the CFL (Canadian Football League) is emerging as a quality league for players in the United States."

Since Blakeney took the over as head coach in 1991, 27 Trojans’ players have either been drafted or signed free agent contracts to play in the NFL. Tight end Mookie Moore and wide receiver Mareno Philyaw were both drafted in 2000, while wide out Jonathan Carter was the lone draftee from last year’s team.

However, six TSU players signed free agent contracts with NFL teams last season, including linebacker Nick Colbert, punter Matt Allen and kicker Lawrence Tynes.

The highest a Troy State player has ever went in the draft was in 1992, when Leonard Wheeler was selected in the third round (84th overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Blakeney thinks there are some seniors on this year’s squad who could compete in the NFL.

"All of our senior linebackers on defense are pretty fast and good cover guys," he said. "Corey Sears has great speed. Jimmy McClain is closer to the NFL yardstick, physically, while Ben Waldrop is in the middle somewhere. All three guys will run and hit you fast as they can."

And while quarterback Brock Nutter’s height (6-1) doesn’t fit the NFL mold for that position, Blakeney said you can’t question the fifth-year senior’s durability.

Nutter has started 42 straight games for the Trojans and thrown for just under 7,000 yards.

"He’s (Nutter) been a durable quarterback for us," said Blakeney.

But the player who may have the pro scouts drooling is tailback Demontray Carter. Although not a large back (5-10, 191), Carter has the speed and the stop-and-go running ability to find a home somewhere in the NFL. He can also catch the ball well out of the backfield.

"Demontray has the speed to play in the NFL," said Blakeney. "Of course you never know when you’re dealing with in the NFL, because it’s just not possible to predict what they’re looking for and when."

Carter shrugs off talk of playing professionally.

"I haven’t even given it a thought," he said. "Right now, my job is to help this team and get my degree, because that’s what I promised my Momma I’d do."