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Colgate's Nolan hoping for chance to play pro football
Ryan Knowles remembers the conversation he had with Pat Nolan midway through Nolan’s senior season with the Colgate University football team. It was a conversation that convinced Nolan to pursue a job in the National Football League.
“I told him, ‘You might as well explore it because you have nothing to lose,’” Knowles, Colgate’s defensive line coach, recalled. “He has his education. He’s not skipping out on school. He finished his career playing his best football.”
Nolan, an Exeter resident who played football, baseball and hockey at Exeter High School, is a 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive lineman who led the Patriot League in sacks (6½) last season. He also had a team-high 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Now Nolan wants to move his football career forward. He participated in the Syracuse Pro Day last month and performed in front of scouts from the NFL as well as the Canadian Football League.
“Basically it was the same things you’d do at the (NFL’s) Indianapolis combine,” Nolan said. “I (performed) better than the Indianapolis combine for my position. I’m trying out as a defensive end, but some people are looking at me as an outside linebacker.
“Strength and speed is what will get you on the radar. I just have to hope someone sees something they like.”
Nolan’s high school football career ended better than it began. His first varsity season concluded with a 10-9 loss to rival Winnacunnet in the 2000 Division II championship game. The Blue Hawks were upset by Bishop Guertin in the 2001 semifinals, but beat Dover, 24-21, to win the Division II title in 2002 — Nolan’s senior year. He represented New Hampshire in the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl the following summer.
Nolan, who graduated with an Economics degree, was a co-captain at Exeter as a senior, and also served as a tri-captain during his final season at Colgate. He played in 31 games at Colgate (23 starts) and finished his career with 87 tackles, including 17 tackles for loss.
“He was a tight end on offense and we moved him around everywhere on defense — even strong safety,” Exeter coach Bill Ball said. “Nothing that young man does surprises me. Very proud of him.”
Knowles called Nolan “an incredibly smart football player” who is athletic for his size.
“To give you an idea of how athletic he is he was on the front line of our punt team,” Knowles said. “That’s a spot usually reserved for linebackers because you have to have the size to block and the speed to get down field and cover.
“Where it goes from here is hard to say. He’s done everything he can do to put himself on a roster. I hope he gets a chance to prove himself.”
While most prospects will be sitting by the phone during the NFL Draft (April 26-27), Nolan seems to be taking a realistic approach. He said he’s hoping an NFL organization will invite him to training camp and offer an opportunity to make the team as a free agent.
If not the NFL, the CFL and the Arena League are possibilities he may consider.
“There’s definitely still decisions to make,” Nolan said. “At this point there’s no way of knowing even if I’ll be invited (to an NFL camp). It’s just a waiting game.
“It’s always been an interest of mine to play professionally, but I hadn’t even considered playing in the NFL until my position coach (Knowles) mentioned it. He said, ‘There’s no time in your life to try it other than now.’
“We’re gonna give it a shot.”
Exeter’s Nolan hoping for chance to play pro football
By Roger Brown, Seacoast Herald