As the NFL Draft draws closer with the event just about a month away, it is time to start taking a historical look at the draft, with a focus on the best products to ever play in the PSAC, the largest conference in D2 — and the entire NCAA.
The five former stars we have listed may not have been drafted when they were coming out of school, but they turned themselves into great stars at the NFL level, even in some cases as coaches following a lack luster playing career.
Take a look at the greats the PSAC has offered the NFL, and be sure to check back for all the NFL Draft coverage you need here at HERO Sports.
5. Brent Grimes, CB — Shippensburg
Brent Grimes (Photo: Bill Smith/Shippensburg Athletics)
Grimes has become a headline-making corner — both on the field and off — with a great ability to force turnovers on a regular basis. The former Raider star has pulled down 30 picks in his 10 seasons, with 17 of them in the last four years.
What makes Grimes even more impressive as a product is that he is a bit undersized for an outside corner, at only 5-10, but can use speed and leaping ability to make up for his deficiencies against top-flight receivers. After signing on with the Falcons following school and making his way to Miami, and now Tampa, Grimes has turned his small school profile into a trademark of his on-field ferocity.
4. Jim Haslett, LB/Coach — IUP
Haslett has become more notable for his role in coaching, but before he stepped onto the sidelines, he was a standout linebacker, and was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of The Year in 1979 for the Bills.
After admitting to steroid use and his playing career ending, Haslett turned to coaching, where he was an assistant for many teams before finding his way to the ranks of head coach for the New Orleans Saints during the 2000 season. After leading the Saints to the NFC Playoffs, the team never returned to the playoffs, and Haslett posted just one more winning season in his tenure (including his 2008 stint with the Rams). Currently the linebackers coach for the Bengals, Haslett's lineage continued at IUP when his son Chase was the starting QB for a couple of seasons.
3. Brandon Fusco, OL — Slippery Rock
Brandon Fusco had his number retired by SRU in 2016 (Photo: Vikings.com)[/credit]
If there is any position the PSAC knows about NFL success better than most, it is along the offensive line, where Fusco became a full-time starter for the Minnesota Vikings in just his second year as a pro.
Though statistics are not measurable for linemen, the only one that you need to know when considering Fusco's excellence is that he was one of the lead blockers for Adrian Peterson when the All-Pro running back was near the top of his game still. Though Fusco is now a free agent looking for a new home, the standout lineman is still only 28 years old and has at least a few more years left of above-average play in him.
2. Jahri Evans, OL — Bloomsburg
The gold standard among linemen in an offensive-based league, Evans has become the modern face for success in the D2 era of draft eligibles in the PSAC.
A member of the New Orleans Saints for his entire career since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2006 draft. Starting every game in which he has made an appearance, Evans has been with the Saints during their hey day, even winning the Super Bowl back in 2010 over the Indianapolis Colts.
While his career may be coming towards its twilight, Evans has arguably one of the best guards in the last decade, and could maybe find himself in the Hall of Fame in the coming years.
1. Andre Reed, WR — Kutztown
Andre Reed visiting his alma mater (Photo: Kutztown University)
Arguably the best prospect from the D2 ranks of all time, Reed is the only former PSAC product that can boast his membership in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Totaling over 13,000 receiving yards with 87 touchdowns, Reed was never a dominating receiver, but a consistent threat that was the lead weapon for Jim Kelly on the Bills' four-time AFC Champion teams of the early 90's. A fourth round pick of Buffalo in 1985, Reed played all but one season — his last in 2000 with the Saints — in the red and blue.
Now the naming right to Kutztown's football facility, Reed is glorified throughout the PSAC for his accomplishments at the professional level. And as far as we stand today, no other D2 alum that played in the league can come close to the former PSAC standout.