Not that long ago, Dan Vitale was a two-star recruit from Wheaton-Warrenville South without a true position or Big Ten offer. Scout.com ranked him 139th among defensive backs, ESPN.com listed him 260th among receivers.
He accepted Northwestern’s offer on the spot, hugging coach Pat Fitzgerald in June of 2011.
“I would never take back that decision,” he said Saturday. “This is where I am now because of it.”
The Buccaneers picked Vitale 197th overall in the middle of the sixth round of the NFL draft Saturday, and he will have an excellent chance to make the team. He is the only fullback on the roster and coach Dirk Koetter said Vitale also will be used at tight end and on special teams.
The Bucs first expressed interest after an Outback Bowl practice, so the 6-foot-1, 239-pound Vitale was not surprised when they called his name.
ESPN’s Trey Wingo called him “freakishly athletic” and Northwestern superbacks coach Bob Heffner said he never has had a better pupil in 37 years: “He worked hard, he critiqued himself and he was never satisfied.”
Vitale went where he was expected, but Wildcats teammate Dean Lowry exceeded projections when the Packers snapped him up at the end of the fourth round, 137th overall.
His NFL.com scouting report cited “short arms and small hands” as the reason he might not get drafted, but Lowry’s pluses outweighed that. He is a max-effort defensive end who goes 6-6, 296 pounds and registered six tackles-for-loss against Nebraska.
Fitzgerald predicted the pair would go to teams that “don’t always necessarily look for the height, weight, speed, cookie-cutter guys. … Dan and Dean are pros already in their approach — film study, nutrition, rest, everything.”
Excerpts from the Chicago Tribune / Teddy Greenstein @ – Reporter
Complete article / April 30th 2016 : http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/ct-big-ten-notre-dame-nfl-draft-spt-0501-20160430-story.html