Star Student-Athletes Vying for NFL Roster Spots
Perhaps the best indication of the success of the University’s football program was the mindset of standout defensive lineman Raheem Stanley as he prepared to participate in his first NFL minicamp earlier this spring with the Baltimore Ravens.
“I wasn’t really surprised by much,” said Stanley, an anchor on the team that has not lost a regular season game to a Division II opponent in two years. “I went into the tryout understanding that this is the NFL and everything would be fast-paced and detail-oriented.”
Stanley joined quarterback Ryan Osiecki and wide receiver Jason Thompson as the first chargers to earn tryouts with NFL teams since the program returned in 2009. The last two UNH players drafted into the NFL were Miles McPherson (1982) and Harry Boatswain (1991). Five Chargers have appeared in an NFL regular season game.
“I'm very happy for them," said head football coach Peter Rossomando. "They have committed themselves to getting better every day, and I'm positive their NFL experiences will be fulfilling.”
Stanley, the Northeast-10 Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, said his goal heading into the minicamp with the Ravens was to show the coaches how much information he could absorb in a short time.
“I was surprised at how comfortable I was from the beginning,” he said. “I’m usually not comfortable with being around a bunch of new people and in a whole new setting, but I settled in very quickly.”
A day after leaving Baltimore, Stanley was offered a contract. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury discovered during the physical exam preventing the two sides from moving forward with a deal.
“The Ravens told to me to give them a call when I am back to 100 percent,” he said.
Not far from Baltimore, Thompson was looking to make a good impression with the Washington Redskins.
“My coaches helped me perform well enough in college to get the attention of NFL teams, and my agent has gotten me the chance to show my skills,” said Thompson, who ranks second in UNH history for receiving touchdowns and receiving yards, and fifth in receptions.
The quarterback on the other end of most of Thompson’s touchdowns, Osiecki, New Haven's all-time leader in nearly every passing category, earned a tryout with the New England Patriots. “We helped each other out in the four years we played together, impressing some teams,” Osiecki told the New Haven Register.
While they aren’t on the same team anymore, the trio continues to pull for each other. “I can’t even put into words how proud I am,” Stanley told the Register. “I’m happy for both of them to get a chance to live their dreams.”