I fired up my Playstation 2 and put in NCAA 05. If you’re from the Pittsburgh area, you remember it – Larry Fitzgerald on the cover. Western PA’s Pope for one season. Bored and scrolling through teams and rosters, I immediately stopped when I came across one peculiar lineup.
A quarterback at punter. A punter at quarterback. Linemen playing out of position. Safeties along the defensive line. Twilight Zone come to college football.
That team was Dartmouth University. Maybe it was an Easter Egg, a twist of the knife by a Yale programmer.
Hopefully someone can back me up on that because for the life of me, I can’t find any reference to it on the Internet. If this is a figment of my childhood imagination, I’ll cry. But I say this to make a point. That was my first, and nearly only, exposure to Dartmouth football. After the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie minicamp this weekend, I might have my second.
The team rolled out their rookie minicamp roster yesterday. 54 players enter. But not all 54 stay. The list is riddled with tryout players, most of which are obscure names to you and me. But we know tryout players have made it through the other side, onto the training camp roster. In the case of Terence Garvin, a core special teamer, someone who parlayed it into another contract in Washington.
One tryout name seemed to stand above the rest and he’ll get his opportunity to show that intrigue this weekend: Dartmouth QB Dalyn Williams. I was far from the first to hear his name. Many well-respected people in the draft community pegged him as a sleeper in his class.
Standing in at 5’10/6, 205 pounds, height the obvious factor working against him, Williams had a successful career for Big Green. Last year, he threw for over 2500 yards, completed 64% of his passes, with a 17/5 touchdown to interception ratio.
Emory Hunt is probably higher on him than anyone else, and one of the few to get All-22 tape on him. He graded him as a 2nd round quarterback and his #2 quarterback overall. That probably sounds crazy but let Hunt explain his rationale in his scouting report.
Even in the couple of clips we’re privy too, it’s undeniable Williams has a heck of an arm, capable of making throws most tryout quarterbacks can’t. He isn’t a super-athlete but can extend the play with his feet, and overall, Hunt drew the obvious Russell Wilson comparison.
The path to earning a roster spot in Pittsburgh isn’t impossible. Muddier after the team added Bruce Gradkowski, but there are only four quarterbacks under contract. The three obvious ones, Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce, and Landry Jones with futures contract Dustin Vaughan bringing up the rear. Vaughan has a small NFL resume, showing the ability to stick to a 53 man roster, but there isn’t anything so notable about him that Williams can’t push for a spot. Based off Hunt’s evaluation, Williams is likely to flash throughout the weekend. Maybe that’s enough to catch Mike Tomlin’s eye.
Dartmouth is far from a powerhouse. The last alum to appear in an NFL game came in 2008 when Williams was probably on his high school JV team. But he might be their most intriguing player since and though he’s still just a tryout – naturally making him a longshot – I’m hoping he shows the traits outlined in his report.