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Few NFL Draft prospects for former WPIAL players

Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Penn State offensive tackle and Shady Side product Mike Farrell (78) is hoping to get selected in the seventh round of the NFL Draft.

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Feeling a draft

Here are the top draft-eligible players from local schools. The NFL Draft starts Thursday and runs through Saturday:

Tavon Austin >>

WR, West Virginia

Most electrifying player in draft could get taken in top half of first round.

Geno Smith

QB, West Virginia

Could go in top-10 picks or late in first round as this is one of most unheralded and puzzling quarterback classes ever.

Stedman Bailey >>

WR, West Virginia

Looks like a solid third-round pick after putting up big numbers at West Virginia.

Gerald Hodges

LB, Penn State

Could go late in the third round or somewhere in the fifth round as a player who can contribute on special teams and eventually push for a starting job.

Jordan Hill

DT, Penn State

Depth at defensive tackle could push Hill into fifth round, but look for him to have a long NFL career.

Michael Mauti >>

LB, Penn State

A likely second-round pick before sustaining a third ACL injury, Mauti is now a third-day selection as some team figures to take a chance on him.

Ray Graham

RB, Pitt >>

Concerns about his speed and the devaluing of running backs make Graham a likely third-day selection.

Matt Stankiewitch

C, Penn State

Not many centers are drafted, and the 2012 first-team All-Big Ten pick is a late-round candidate.

Joe Madsen

C, West Virginia

Madsen won't get drafted until late, and he is more likely to sign as an undrafted free agent.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Scott Brown and Jerry DiPaola
Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 11:14 p.m.
 

Mike Farrell leaves Penn State for good Friday. His next stop is anyone's guess, and that includes Farrell.

The offensive tackle, Pitt wide receiver Mike Shanahan and California safety Rontez Miles are among former WPIAL players who are hoping to get taken in the NFL Draft or at least sign with a team as an undrafted free agent.

WPIAL products from Mike Ditka and Joe Namath to Joe Montana and Dan Marino hold a place in NFL lore, but this is not a great draft year when it comes to Western Pennsylvania players.

None of them will get taken in the first two days of the draft, which starts Thursday. Farrell, a Shady Side Academy graduate, and Shanahan, a Norwin graduate, probably won't get picked until the seventh round if they are selected at all. Miles, a Woodland Hills graduate, is also projected as a late-round pick or undrafted free agent.

“I think I have an outside chance of getting drafted,” said Farrell, who started every game last season and earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. “I'm growing confident that my name is out there.”

Indeed, the Saints hosted Farrell for a visit a couple of weeks ago. The 6-foot-6, 303-pounder worked out for the Patriots later that week in State College.

Farrell spent the last three months working out in State College. Former Nittany Lions offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, now with the Raiders, worked with Farrell and center Matt Stankiewitch, helping each prepare for Penn State's Pro Day.

“Stefan really helped us because he was almost our position coach this spring,” Farrell said.

Farrell said five or six teams have called to make sure they can get in contact with him this weekend. Shanahan, meanwhile, said about 15 teams have called him or his agent Bill Parise, mainly to chat and ensure his phone number is good. Shanahan left Pitt fifth on the all-time receptions list (159) — one behind No. 4 Dietrich Jells and two behind No. 3 Larry Fitzgerald — and seventh in receiving yards (2,276).

Shanahan will switch to tight end or H-back in the NFL, so he has worked hard since the end of the season, his fifth at Pitt. The result is he has added about 20 pounds to a 6-5 frame, eating three substantial meals per day and drinking protein shakes. He is likely to report to his new team at 245 pounds.

The anxiety and uncertainty connected to the draft — and his future — has been weighing on him.

“It's definitely exciting,” Shanahan said. “At the same time, I kind of want it to be over with, but it's part of the process. I'm trying to enjoy it. I will be a little bit nervous, but it will be fun.”

Scott Brown and Jerry DiPaola are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach Brown at sbrown@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ScottBrown_Trib and DiPaola at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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