Update: The original article only highlighted four NFL rookies from Long Island. After publication of this article, Jared Leake of Huntington received an opportunity with the Giants as a try-out player for their rookie mini camp. Read about him here.
original story below
As NFL rookie mini camps soon begin to kickoff, there are four Long Islanders (as of this publication) to watch out for.
Who are they?
Lindenhurst’s Jeremy Ruckert (tight end; Jets), Sayville’s Jack Coan (quarterback; Colts), Coram’s Denzel Williams (defensive back; Ravens) and Uniondale’s Cyrus Holder (wide receiver; Bears).
Scroll down to learn about each one.
Of the four, Ruckert was the only one of the group to be drafted — he was highly regarded prospect out of Ohio State. He was selected in the third round with the No. 101 pick.
As a Buckeye, he caught 54 passes for 615 yards and 12 touchdowns in 45 career games.
He’s the first Long Islander since 2018 to be drafted. That year, Elmont native Greg Senat was picked by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round. Ruckert is the highest drafted NFL player from Long Island since D’Brickashaw Ferguson of Freeport was picked fourth overall by the Jets in the 2006 NFL Draft.
Ruckert impressed scouts with his 6-foot-5, 252-pound frame and playmaking ability. Watch this catch below.
He is one of Long Island’s top high school prospect ever. As a senior at Lindenhurst High School, he was the No. 2 ranked tight end nationally by both Rivals and 247Sports, two of the most-trusted sources of scouting news.
For more highlights click here.
Undrafted but not out
While Ruckert has the best chances of making a regular season roster being a draftee, don’t count out the others, who were all signed as undrafted free agents quickly after the draft concluded.
While more difficult, it’s possible to make it as an UDFA. Just look at Elijah Riley, a Port Jeff Station native, and former Newfield High School alum. He went undrafted in 2020 after a stellar career at Army. After being promoted from the practice squad to special teams with the Eagles in 2020, he moved onto to the Jets where he started seven games at safety last season. He was recently re-signed by Gang Green.
Coan, a Sayville High School legend, spent four seasons, including one injured and out of the lineup, with Wisconsin before transferring to Notre Dame this past season as a graduate student.
He led Notre Dame to an 11-2 season and an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl, during which he threw for a Fiesta Bowl-record 509 yards and five touchdowns. He was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and impressed at the East-West Shrine Bowl.
As a Colt, Coan will have the chance to learn behind former league MVP in Matt Ryan while also vying for a back-up position against an otherwise unproven quarterback room. So far, his competition is the Colts’ 2021 sixth-round pick Sam Ehlinger and James Morgan, who has been on three practice teams since 2020.
See his throwing ability below.
If you are familiar with Riley’s story, you may also know Williams; they were high school teammates and members of the 2015 Newfield team that won the Long Island Championship over MacArthur.
Williams, who was a three-sport star in football, track and basketball at Newfield, played football for Sacred Heart before transferring to Villanova as a graduate student in 2020.
He possesses good ball skills and quickness, as evident by his 4.47 forty-yard dash time. This season, Williams recorded 16 total tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery for the Wildcats.
See his skill’s below.
The wide receiver from Uniondale signed with the Bears after being a two-time All-Northeast Conference player.
Holder, who’s listed at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, played four seasons at Saint Francis before transferring to Duquesne his final two years.
Between both schools, his final college stats include 122 receptions for 2,270 yards and 22 touchdowns.
The Bears are going through a complete overhaul of their offense, which could lead for some opportunity for the Long Island product.
See his college highlights below.
Between their alma maters and fans, there are plenty of local support for these Long Island men vying for NFL positions this season.
Chris Vaccaro, the head of the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame, says the impact of these men taking the next step is tremendous for the island.
“It’s really great for Long Island,” he told greaterlongisland.com. “They have solidified their legacies in high school and college and I hope they do the same at the highest level. This is a very special time for Long Island football. Between these young players and others from previous generations, Long Island schools continue to produce very strong football talent.”
Top: Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert catches a pass in front of Alabama linebacker Christian Harris during the first half of an NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)