Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather



Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.355.8822 for flexible options & rates.




The Bradsher Beat
Friday, March 30, 2007

By Bethany Bradsher

There's more than one path to pro success

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

Before they even graduate, at least eight seniors who recently bid farewell to Pirate football hope to cast their lot with an NFL team.

One of those East Carolina products wide receiver Aundrae Allison –– is getting most of the sparks from the pre-draft buzz.

Allison is ranked between eighth and 11th among wide receivers on draft prediction Web sites, and most pundits predict that he’ll be picked on the first day of the draft, anywhere from the first to fourth round.

But the other pillars of the Pirates’ bowl-bound 2006 season should take heart. While college results and pre-draft performance in team workouts and the scouting combine certainly have some bearing on future professional success, that elusive leap to glory at the next level seems more like Peter Pan’s recipe for flight: faith, trust and pixie dust.

Just ask Vonta Leach, whose star has risen so far after four seasons in the NFL that he was recently the subject of a bidding war between the Giants and the Texans. Leach, who spent his first three years with the Packers, signed with the Texans last year after being released by Green Bay.

He started his career in Houston in the shadows, mostly watching from the bench for the early games until the coaches decided to see what the 6-foot, 250-pound blocking specialist could offer their team. Leach’s answer to that question was so resounding that he became a starter and the Texans’ primary blocker.

So it’s no surprise that the Texans responded when New York made a play for Leach last week, offering him a four-year contract worth $8 million. New York fans began lauding Leach on their message boards and hoping that the Texans would fail to match the offer in the seven-day time limit.

On the seventh day, Houston grabbed Leach back.

Two of Leach’s teammates from the class of 2004 are also making their name after periods of uncertainty.

Wide receiver Terrance Copper recently signed a one-year contract extension with the New Orleans Saints after showing his versatility last fall. When Joe Horn went down with an injury halfway through the season, Copper came in and started four games at receiver, grabbing 23 passes for 385 yards and three touchdowns.

For offensive lineman Brian Rimpf of the Baltimore Ravens, the 2006 season consisted of truckloads of rehabilitation on his severe hamstring injury and a concerted effort to keep the team executives from forgetting him during his long year on injured reserve.

The Ravens clearly got the message that Rimpf is back to normal or better, and they signed him to a one-year contract extension on March 14. Rimpf, who attended meetings and film sessions regularly during his IR banishment, told Ravens’ website writer Mike Duffy that he got the motion back in his leg early in the rehabilitation, but the greatest challenge was to find the strength he lost over those long months.

"The mobility didn't take long to get back, but being able to push off that leg and feel 100 percent about it, you need to build back the strength," he said. “I'm glad to be able to have another year with the team I started out with. The Ravens showed confidence in me, and hopefully I can get back to a high level of play."

Ironic, isn’t it, that each of those players is entering his fifth season out of college? Each is coming into his own after years of getting accustomed to the intensity of the NFL and finding out which of his athletic gifts will translate to the big gridiron setting.

So players like Jamar Flournoy, Eric Graham and James Pinkney might find hope from stories like those of their older teammates. If they can find a way to get into an NFL camp and stay while they bulk up and learn, they might find themselves making news in March of 2011.

Send an e-mail message to Bethany Bradsher.

Click here to dig into Bethany Bradsher's Bonesville archives.

03/30/2007 12:51:51 AM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.