EMU notes: Brogan Roback, other ex-Eagles fighting for NFL jobs

By Art Brooks
Special to The Detroit News
Brogan Roback

If you put any stock in training camp depth charts, Eastern Michigan's former players in the NFL are going to be in some tussles for jobs.

Look what faces quarterback Brogan Roback with his home-state Browns. Former Bills starter Tyrod Taylor, Heisman winner Baker Mayfield and former Michigan Stater and NFL veteran Drew Stanton are ahead of him, the Browns say. 

Roback was an undrafted free agent who signed a three-year contract.

"I'm more than grateful for the Browns organization for taking this risk," he told The Detroit News in May.

Cleveland's first exhibition was Thursday night, at the Giants, and Roback was 2-for-4 throwing for 22 yards in a 20-10 victory.  

More: Three ex-Eastern Michigan players on Buccaneers talk about life in NFL

Here's where other ex-Eagles stand:

►Defensive end Pat O'Connor, Bucs: Tampa Bay has him in a group of three behind a third-stringer. Thursday in a 26-24 win against the Dolphins in Miami, he had an unassisted tackle, assisted on a tackle, had a half sack, had one pass defensed and one quarterback hit. The Tampa Times said O'Connor, on the practice squad last year but who got in three games, is one of four going for a practice squad spot.

►Offensive lineman Cole Gardner, Bucs: Second string at right tackle, the team says.

►Wide receiver Sergio Bailey: Bucs: The team says he wasn't in the three deeps or a group of three others.  Against the Dolphins, he caught four passes for a team-best 52 yards. The Times has Bailey as competing at best for a practice squad job.

►Running back Darius Jackson, Cowboys: Dallas has him as a third-stringer at a position where Ezekiel Elliott is the starter. It also has rookie Bo Scarbrough from Alabama, a seventh-round pick. At San Francisco on Thursday night, Jackson ran six times for 21 yards in a 24-21 loss and had a 14-yard catch. Elliott sat out. Second-teamer Rod Smith gained 32 on eight rushes. Scarbrough's nine runs produced 33 yards, with a 1-yard scoring carry.

►Offensive lineman Andrew Wylie, Chiefs: He's second string, Kansas City says, at left tackle..

Teams must be to the 53-man maximum roster limit by 4 p.m. Sept. 1.

Eagles make watch lists

►Senior Dakota Tallman is a preseason candidate for the Rimington Trophy, presented yearly to the top college center. He was a candidate last year, as well. Tallman is a 6-foot-5, 316-pounder from LaGrange, Ohio. The winner will be announced at the Rimington Trophy presentation in Lincoln, Neb., on Jan.12, 2019. Rimington played at Nebraska. 

►Guard Jimmy Leatiota, a senior, made the preseason watch list as a candidate for the Outland Trophy, presented to the best interior lineman in college football, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America. He is from San Jose, Calif.  The winner of the trophy, named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at Penn at the turn of the 20th century, will be announced at the awards dinner produced by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee on Jan. 9. Leatiota goes 6-3, 306.

Ian Eriksen

►Senior Ian Eriksen (Clarkston) is a preseason candidate for the Doak Walker Award, going to the top college running back. 

Last season, Eriksen played in all 12 games for the Eagles and started in seven. He led EMU in rushing (810 yards on 179 carries, including eight touchdowns). A 5-10, 217-pounder, he caught 16 passes for 119 yards last year. The award is named for SMU's three-time All-America running back. It will be presented on the Home Depot Awards Show on Dec. 6. 

►Junior defensive end Maxx Crosby is on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list. The winner will be announced Dec. 3 at Charlotte, N.C., and goes to the nation's top defensive player. The award is named in honor of the legendary two-way player from Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football, then became a star for professional football's Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw "Bronko" Nagurski is a charter member of the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

►Crosby also has made the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list. The award recognizes the college defensive player of the year.

Playing in all 12 games last season, he led the Eagles in sacks with 11, tying the program record of Avery Brown in 1996. Bednarik, a former standout at Penn and with the Eagles, is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame's class of '69 and the NFL Hall of Fame's class of '67.

The winner of the award will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show. Crosby is from Colleyville, Texas, and is 6-5, 247. 

Extra points  

►Coach Chris Creighton's three predecessors since 2000 were fired — Jeff Woodruff (9-34, 6-24 MAC, 2000-03), Jeff Genyk (16-42, 13-26 MAC, 2004-08) and Ron English (11-46, 7-30 MAC, 2009-13). Woodruff now coaches Andress High School in El Paso, Texas; Genyk is special-teams coordinator at Northwestern; and English coaches safeties at Florida. 

►Since 2000 and including interims Al Lavan (2-1, 2-1 in 2003) and Stan Parrish (1-2, 1-2 in 2013), EMU's coaches are 54-159. Lavan died April 23 and was 71. 

►Jim Pietrzak, an E-Club Hall of Famer and former offensive tackle (1972-74), died April 5 at 65. A Hamtramck native, he was a sixth-round choice by the Giants in 1974 and also played for the Saints and Chiefs.

►Creighton (15-34 in four seasons) never had a losing year before coming to EMU. He was 32-9 at NAIA Ottawa in Kansas; 63-15 at NCAA Division III Wabash in Indiana and 42-22 at FCS Drake in Iowa.

Scouting report

Monmouth, an FCS team from New Jersey the Eagles play at home Aug. 31 in their opener, was selected to finish second in the Big South preseason poll; Kennesaw (Ga.) State, the league's defending champion, was picked for first.

Back for the Hawks will be receiver Reggie White Jr. (74 catches for 874 yards and four touchdowns) and running back Pete Guerriero (1,408 all-purpose yards). Monmouth averaged 32.8 points last season in going 9-3.

Art Brooks is a retired Detroit News sports copy editor and former volunteer adviser at the school newspaper, The Eastern Echo.