Mountaineer Alums Hoping To Catch On

While most Mountaineer fans are focused on the opening of fall camp on Saturday, a handful of former Mountaineers are hoping to latch on with an NFL team over the next few weeks as the big boys begin their preseason.

In West Virginia's 3-3-5 odd stack defense, the biggest question heading into the 2006 season revolves around the "5." Only senior Eric Wicks returns as a starter for the Mountaineers, and as fall camp arrives on Saturday there is sure to be a lot of attention paid to the newcomers in the secondary.

Wicks' fellow starters last season -- cornerbacks Anthony Mims and Dee McCann, bandit safety Mike Lorello, and free safety Jahmile Addae -- are all playing football of their own right now. The foursome is scattered all over the country trying to make their respective NFL teams.

We'll start with McCann, who was the only Mountaineer selected in April's NFL Draft. The Detroit Lions took McCann with their sixth round pick, and the cornerback is one of ten DB's on the Lions preseason roster. Of the three rookie defensive backs on the roster, McCann is the only one who was a draft pick. While on the surface that may seem to tilt the odd's in Dee's favor, he isn't likely to factor into the Lions' immediate plans at DB. Thus his play in the preseason will be a big factor in showing the Lions whether or not he's worth hanging onto.

Just up the road from Morgantown at Steelers camp, 2005 Team MVP Mike Lorello is fighting for a roster spot. Lorello was picked up by the Super Bowl champs as an undrafted free agent, and is one of three rookie safeties in Camp Cowher. Ironically, the other two safeties were Mountaineer opponents over the last couple of years (former East Carolina standout Zach Baker, and former Syracuse star Anthony Smith.) With a deep defensive backfield already, Lorello's chances of playing in the secondary appear slim. But as Mike Lorello has proven time and again, he'll do anything it takes to help a team win. For many players just looking to get on the field, the best shot is to play on special teams. That's where Lorello's likely to get a good look in Latrobe.

Free safety Jahmile Addae was thought to have a good shot at being drafted, but when all the names were called he found himself on the outside looking in on April's final weekend. Addae quickly came to an agreement with his hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but was cut loose at the outset of training camp. Showing the perseverance that was a trademark of his collegiate career, Jahmile was recently picked up by the Tennessee Titans. While he may be at a disadvantage having not spent the summer in Nashville, there's no doubting Addae's work ethic. Whether he makes the team or not, he'll leave it all out on the field. I've got to think that someone, somewhere has a spot for Jahmile Addae.

Finally, cornerback Anthony Mims is back in his native Southern California going through camp with the San Diego Chargers. Anthony could end up being one of those players who is better as a pro than he was in college. While he'll never be the most athletic player on the field, his football I.Q. is his biggest strength. Mims is currently listed on the fourth team of the Chargers' depth chart -- not exactly a glowing endorsement from the ball club. Like his former teammates though, his best shot at making the team is by playing on some special teams.

Who knows if any of these guys will end up sticking in the NFL? Certainly we'd like to see them all go on to have long productive careers, but the odds of that happening are slim to none. If you're flipping through the TV one night though and any of these guys are playing, take a look at whether they're being used solely on defense or if they get some reps on special teams as well.

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