Recent NFL Draft a Testament to the...

Recent NFL Draft a Testament to the... Recent NFL Draft a Testament to the Colonial Conference

The Colonial Conference has always enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best small-enrollment school football leagues statewide.

The recent NFL draft gave enough example of why this is the case.

There were two players drafted who played high school football from the seven-county South Jersey area and both of them competed in the Colonial Conference.

Haddon Heights graduate Haason Reddick of Temple was South Jersey’s 18th first-round draft choice when he was selected 13th overall by the Arizona Cardinals. Paulsboro graduate Julie’n Davenport, an offensive tackle from Bucknell, was a fourth round selection of the Houston Texans, the 130th overall selection.

Reddick, who played defensive end at Temple, but will be a linebacker in the NFL, has a well-documented story. He was never an all-star in high school simply due to injury. He was limited to just four games his senior season.

He was a running back-defensive back at Haddon Heights but and began at Temple as a walk-on safety and then moved to linebacker and finally defensive end.

Unlike Reddick, Davenport was a star in high school in both football and basketball. He was an all-South Jersey selection in football at Paulsboro (and an all-conference choice in basketball).

Reddick became the third Colonial Conference performer to be selected in the first round.

The others were former Woodbury offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie and ex Audubon quarterback Joe Flacco.

McKinnie, who was a star at the University of Miami, was the seventh overall pick of the 2012 draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He enjoyed a 12-year NFL career, including a Pro Bowl season in 2009. McKinnie was one of the biggest offensive linemen in the NFL at 6-foot-8 and 335 pounds.

He made 162 career regular season starts and also appeared in 11 playoff games. He was a consensus all-South Jersey performer in high school.

Because he is an offensive linemen, McKinnie doesn’t always get the credit he deserves for having a spectacular career.

Flacco, on the other hand, has enjoyed a high profile career. He was the 18th overall selection in the 2008 draft by the Baltimore Ravens.

Flacco became an immediate starter and in nine seasons with the Ravens has made 138 starts and is 83-55. He is also has a 10-5 record in the postseason and guided the Ravens to the Super Bowl title following the 2012 season.

In the regular season, Flacco has thrown for 32,639 yards and 182 touchdown passes.

What is amazing is that Haddon Heights and Woodbury have been Group 1 schools for football. Audubon has bounced back and forth between Group 2 and Group 1.

It shows that players from small schools can make the big time, especially from the Colonial Conference.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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