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Few NFL Draft prospects for former WPIAL players

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 11:14 p.m.
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.

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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