Philadelphia, PA – They've folded up the tents for the Great West Football Conference, but some parting gifts still have to be handed out this week.
The disbanded conference will be one of the first from the FCS to have two players selected in the 77th NFL Draft that runs from Thursday to Saturday. South Dakota offensive tackle Tom Compton and Cal Poly cornerback Asa Jackson are expected to be selected on the final day of the draft, likely in the fourth or fifth round.
Jackson was the only defensive player in Great West history to earn first-team all-conference honors four times. Compton joined Jackson on the conference's all-time team, which honored the best from the too-short eight-year existence of a conference that produced consecutive Buchanan Award winners from 2004 to 2006 in Cal Poly linebacker Jordan Beck, defensive end Chris Gocong and linebacker Kyle Shotwell and was once the roaming ground of current FCS national champion North Dakota State and NFL standout wide receiver Vincent Jackson (Northern Colorado).
The most recent Great West player taken in the draft was Cal Poly wide receiver Ramses Barden by the New York Giants in 2009 (No. 85 overall, third round)
BIG SOUTH RISES
Speaking of two top prospects from a conference outside the top five (Big Sky, CAA Football, Missouri Valley, Southern and Southland), the Big South boosts Coastal Carolina cornerback Josh Norman and Presbyterian free safety/cornerback/special teams standout Justin Bethel.
They are a special duo that will be the Big South's first draft choices since Liberty running back Rashad Jennings went to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the seventh round (250th overall selection) in 2009.
The East-West Shrine Game may have showcased two sleepers on the national scale.
Norman, at 6 feet, 200 pounds, was arguably the best cornerback there and he's projected for the middle rounds.
Chattanooga quarterback B.J. Coleman came up huge at the Shrine game - passing for 170 yards and a touchdown - and has the size (6-3 1/2, 233) and arm strength for a team to reach for him as early as the fourth round.
Cornerback Janzen Jackson gave up his senior season at McNeese State to enter the draft as a junior-eligible prospect. It was a bad move after a nondescript season in the Southland Conference. His draft value seemingly has plummeted to priority free agent.
North Dakota State offensive tackle Paul Cornick might make an NFL practice squad, but probably will have to do it as a priority free agent. Despite a big senior season as the Bison won the national title, Cornick will shift to guard in the pros, hoping the move is an improvement on his limited athleticism.
YEAR OF THE DEFENSIVE BACKS
Six of the first eight or nine FCS selections are expected to be defensive backs. The first defensive taken from the FCS could be Montana's Trumaine Johnson, a cornerback by trade who at 6-2, 204 pounds, could transition to free safety to cover the ever-emerging crop of tight ends in the NFL.
Furman cornerback Ryan Steed is the other big talent, highly regarded for his ball skills and playmaking ability.
The top FCS pick of the draft is expected to be Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick, who scouts likely have been impressed with ever since he blocked the field-goal attempt that set up the Mountaineers' game-winning touchdown drive at Michigan in the 2007 season opener.
The 2011 Walter Payton Award finalist went on to become Appalachian State's all-time leader in receptions (202), receiving yards (3,418) and touchdown catches (31).
He's considered a second-round talent.
Players who could be helped by their positions generally being considered weak in this year's draft:
Quarterback - Coleman and Richmond's Aaron Corp
Offensive tackle - Compton, Portland State's Dustin Waldron and Columbia's Jeff Adams
Center - Stephen F. Austin's George Bias
Tight end - North Dakota State's Matt Veldman amd Morgan State's Lamont Bryant
Josh Buchanan of the influential JBScouting.com website for small-school draft prospects predicts at least 19 FCS players will have their name called during the three-day draft. They are:
Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State, 6-4, 220, second round
Trumaine Johnson, CB/FS, Montana, CB/FS, 6-2, 204, second/third round
Tom Compton, OT, South Dakota, 6-5, 315, fourth/fifth round
Ryan Steed, CB, Furman, 5-11, 195, fourth/fifth round
Justin Bethel, FS, Presbyterian, 6-0, 200, fifth round
Asa Jackson, CB, Cal Poly, 5-10, 190, fifth round
Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina, 6-0, 190, fifth/sixth round
Christian Thompson, FS, South Carolina State, 6-0, 211, fifth/sixth round
B.J. Coleman, QB, Tennessee-Chattanooga, 6-3 1/2, 233, fifth/sixth round
Matt Veldman, TE, North Dakota State, 6-7, 257, sixth round
Dustin Waldron, OT, Portland State, 6-5, 305, sixth/seventh round
Micah Pellerin, CB, Hampton, 6-0, 194, sixth/seventh round
Jerron McMillian, SS, Maine, 5-11, 203, sixth/seventh round
Emil Igwenagu, H-back, Massachusetts, 6-1, 245, sixth/seventh round
Jeff Adams, OT, Columbia, 6-6, 305, sixth/seventh round
Jeremy Lane, CB, Northwestern State, 6-0, 190, seventh round
Jonathan Grimes, RB, William & Mary, 5-10, 207, seventh round
Dale Moss, WR, South Dakota State, 6-3, 213, seventh round
Donovan Robinson, OLB, Jackson State, 6-2 1/2, 232, seventh round
Others in the picture: Aaron Corp, QB, Richmond, 6-3, 215; Lamont Bryant, TE, Morgan State, 6-5, 230; Josue Ortiz, DE, Harvard, 6-4 1/2, 253; D.J. Bryant, OLB, James Madison, 6-3, 248; Gino Gradkowski, OG, Delaware, 6-2 1/2, 300; Caleb McSurdy, ILB, Montana, 6-1, 245, seventh round; Julian Talley, WR, Massachusetts, 6-1, 199, seventh round; Donovan Richard, OLB, South Carolina State, 5-11 1/2, 214; Tim Benford, WR, Tennessee Tech, 5-11, 205;
The Optimum Scouting NFL Draft Guide foresees 20 FCS players getting selected in the draft. They are:
Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State, second round
B.J. Coleman, QB, Tennessee-Chattanooga, third round
Ryan Steed, CB, Furman, third round
Micah Pellerin, CB, Hampton, third round
Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina, fourth round
Trumaine Johnson, CB/S, Montana, fourth round
Asa Jackson, CB, Cal Poly, fifth round
Adrian Hamilton, DE/OLB, Prairie View A&M, 6-2 1/2, 250, fifth round
Ryan Davis, DE/OLB, Bethune-Cookman, 6-2, 259, fifth round
Dale Moss, WR, South Dakota State, fifth round
Justin Bethel, S/CB, Presbyterian, fifth round
Janzen Jackson, S, McNeesse State, 6-0, 190, sixth round
Emil Igwenagu, TE/FB, Massachusetts, sixth round
Jeff Adams, OT, Columbia, sixth round
Ronnie Cameron, DT, Old Dominion, 6-2, 305, seventh round
Aaron Corp, QB, Richmond, seventh round
Jerron McMillian, S, Maine, seventh round
Julian Talley, WR, Massachusetts, seventh round
Jonathan Grimes, RB, William & Mary, seventh round
Brandon Harvey, ILB, Delaware State, 6-1, 240, seventh round
Others in the picture: David LeGree, QB, Hampton, 6-4, 250; Patrick Witt, QB, Yale, 6-3, 225; Gino Gradkowski, OG/C, Delaware; Alex Tounkara, WR, Brown, 6-4, 211