Lorenzo Jerome, memorize the name of Ed Stofko. If all goes according to plan, in about two weeks you'll be the only two NFL Draft picks in St. Francis (Pa.) history.
Sadly, Stofko won't be here to see history repeat itself, as he passed away in 1988. He was drafted in 1944 during the days of World War II. He and a handful of other players from St. Francis graced NFL rosters in the 1940s and 1950s.
A renaissance of sorts is happening with the Red Flash under former NFL star and current SFU head coach Chris Villarrial. The program is winning championships and producing NFL level talent, as Jerome is expected to be drafted no later than day three — April 29. Placekicker Lance Geesey likely will get picked up as a free agent by next month, and scouts are already drooling over rising junior receiver Kamron Lewis, who stands 6-foot-4.
But first things first, Jerome is ready. The defensive back starred in NFLPA Bowl, intercepting two passes and picking up MVP honors. He also was in the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. Then he topped that off in the on campus Pro Day.
"It's been fun and stressful at the same time," Jerome told HERO Sports this week. I met a bunch of great guys at the all-star games and the combine. You're definitely under the microscope but the fun part is being around all the other guys, just being in that environment. There has been a lot of media trying to talk to me, a lot of people in my ear. Certain people I avoid, but if I know you and I'm familiar with you, I definitely want to talk to you. My agent? She didn't even want me talking to anybody."
In other words, things have changed a lot in the past few months. Jerome has gone from virtually unnoticed a year ago to a mega prospect all in the past 12 months. Dealing with an avalanche of media requests never used to be a problem. Neither was dealing with a heap of scouts contacting him, obviously. He's gotten used to that too.
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At least five Mock Drafts have Jerome going from the 4th round to the 6th round. While Jerome didn't run a 4.3-second time in the 40-yard dash during the combine or pro day, nobody questions his football IQ and football instincts. When there are pads on, he's good, very good. It'll be interesting to see which team sees him as the good fit — and worthy of note, the nearby Pittsburgh Steelers have been in touch a bunch. The south Florida native is a true playmaker on defense, along with special teams. And it all started with St. Francis and a program and a coaching staff that had faith in him when nobody else did.
"They never gave up on me," Jerome said. "I came as a freshman and I had a lot of ups and downs. But they saw something in me and they put me in this situation. I love that program. I did what I had to do to play football and put St. Francis on the map, and I'm so glad they never gave up on me. This is big for the school and also for the NEC (Northeast Conference). People think its not tough and physical but it actually is."
And what do the scouts say they love?
"They love my burst and my game-field speed," Jerome said. "How I get after the ball, that I'm a ballhawk safety and I put my nose to the grindstone and try to make the play."
NFL — you're about to see what the NEC has seen for four years.
BY THE NUMBERS
LORENZO JEROME'S COLLEGE CAREER
2016: 59 tackles, 6 INTs, 5.5 TFL
2015: 58 tackles, 3 INTs, 5.5 TFL
2014: 79 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 TFL
2013: 56 tackles, 6 INTs, 1 TFL
NOTE: Also, averaged 27.2 yards per kickoff return in career, with 3 TDs; 7.6 per punt return with 1 TD