Copeland signs with Baltimore Ravens

The 2013 NFL Draft came and went, and though three Ivy League players were selected, no Penn players went. But it didn't take much time past pick No. 254 for the Baltimore Ravens to call up senior DE/OLB Brandon Copeland to sign him as a free agent.

Copeland is a Baltimore native whose been a Ravens fan his entire life, and his grandfather Roy Hilton won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Colts in 1971. He attended the NFL Regional Combine at the Ravens facility and worked out for the team again earlier this month.  Copeland was hoping to be drafted today in a late round, but he felt he had a good chance to sign with a team if not. He watched the draft at his off-campus house with a few family members and friends.

OL Joe Bonadies also received good news today. He was invited by the Minnesota Vikings to their rookie mini camp next weekend. "I'm definitely very excited, a lot of emotions, it's an awesome opportunity to get a chance to showcase my skills," Bonadies said Saturday night. He had heard from the Vikings earlier this week that they would invite him and received the official invitation after the draft.

"Hopefully I do well, that's the plan," Bonadies said. "Showcase my skills and hopefully get signed."

Bonadies was with Copeland earlier Saturday and is excited for him. "It's a great opportunity, it's his hometown team, it's a great organization," he said. "I'm happy for him. He knew he was going to get some kind of opportunity.

Punter Scott Lopano was also hoping to hear from an NFL team today, but so far has not been signed.

Copeland, Bonadies and Lopano happy with pro day performance

After getting an early start to the morning — Villanova's Pro Day started at 7 a.m. and they had left campus by 5:45 — Penn football seniors Brandon Copeland, Joe Bonadies and Scott Lopano are happy with how they performed.

At least four NFL scouts were in attendance — the Saints, Seahawks, Chiefs and Eagles — according to a tweet sent by Copeland's agent Ed Wasielewski. All three are very happy with their performances and posted personal bests in multiple drills. Bonadies said they all had PRs in bench and broad jump. Lopano, who garnered particular interest punting for a Seattle scout, said they "turned some heads," and Copeland added that they "definitely impressed some people today." Copeland noted that he did the most drills out of any of the participants today since he worked out at defensive end and linebacker, and said he was proudest of his linebacker drills and broad jump. Full results are after the jump.

So what's next? Copeland has a chance to improve upon his performance today — he was a touch slower than he had hoped on his 40 and said he slipped on the turf in the 20-yard shuttle — but it's a bit of a waiting game for now. The ultimate would be to hear from teams that want to bring them in, because then they'll know for sure they have interest. Here's what they had to say last week: Continue reading

More from NFL Pro Day prep

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday of last week with Penn football seniors Brandon Copeland, Joe Bonadies and Scott Lopano, observing their workouts and getting a feel for what their expectations are for Monday's Pro Day at Villanova and the draft/free agency progress. There was a lot of information that didn't make it into Monday's story, so I wanted to make sure it got out.

At Tuesday's workout, Copeland was working with Penn quarterback Ryan Becker, who had just been cleared for spring workouts after tearing his ACL last summer and missing all of the 2012 season. Becker has a rocket for an arm, which is exactly what Copeland will get at Monday's pro day and Saturday's Ravens Combine during linebacker drills. Quarterback Billy Ragone, defensive back Justyn Williams and Lopano have all played QB for Copeland the past few weeks, but Becker challenges him the most. Copeland looked good, missing just two catches out of at least 40 over the course of the workout. He's been working under the guidance of strength and conditioning coach Steven Brindle and Copeland's agent, Ed Wasielewski.

He runs routes, first as a walk-through, then halfspeed and twice at full speed. Then he does it all again in the opposite direction. After one route, he says to Becker, "If I can do these, I can do anything." He does them with ease. Then he moves on to defensive line drills, perfecting the motions that he's done day in and day out for years. Becker encourages him. "Hit it!" he yells. "You can hit harder than that!" Continue reading

Three to participate in NFL Pro Day, Regional Combines

As has become typical of the Penn football team, three seniors will participate in pro days to showcase their skills to NFL scouts this spring. No Quakers were invited to this weekend's Combine, but DL Brandon Copeland, OL Joe Bonadies and P Scott Lopano are working toward playing at the next level.

For the first time in several years, Penn will not host its own pro day. Rather, the players are opting to attend Villanova's pro day on Mar. 18, hoping to gain some attention from scouts visiting Wildcats wide receiver Norman White.

In addition, Copleand and Bonadies will separately participate in NFL Regional Combines. Bonadies, a Leonia, N.J., native, will attend the N.Y. Jets' Regional Combine on Mar. 2, while Copeland will go to the Baltimore Ravens' Regional Combine on Mar. 22. Copeland is a Baltimore native himself, and his grandfather was drafted by and won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Colts.

UPDATE: Lopano is also participating in two additional specialist combines. The first is Mar. 1-3 in Phoenix with specialist kicking coach Gary Zauner and the second is Mar. 9-14 at Florida Atlantic University with coach Mike Husted. Continue reading

30 Seconds With… Greg Van Roten

Greg Van Roten (left) originally signed with the Packers practice squad but has since been moved to the active roster.

Those who watched the Giants crush the Packers on Sunday Night Football this week may have caught a glimpse of former Penn football player and current Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Greg Van Roten. As we wrote two weeks ago, the 2011 grad currently serves as a backup center and guard and is taking practice snaps with the first team (see story), but he's also been playing on special teams.

We took the time to question Van Roten on some of non-Packers questions in this edition of 30 Seconds With:

Do you have Aaron Rodgers’ cell phone number?
No, I don’t think anybody has that.

Best food in Green Bay?
Cheese Cake Heaven. We all go there for the sandwiches, but they’re famous for dessert.

What do you miss most about Penn?
Where do I start? All my friends mostly, but also being in a city like Philly. Never thought I’d say that, but it’s true. I miss Philly.

Best dancer on the team?
Donald Driver, he won Dancing with the Stars.

Tim Tebow or Mark Sanchez?
Ha, neither.

Penn Law professor to hear NFL arbitration

Penn Law professor Stephen Burbank, the "Special Master" of the NFL since 2002, will arbitrate the salary cap allegations between the NFL and the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.

Burbank worked extensively last spring and summer during the NFL lockout and in the months leading up to the lockout.

If you haven't been following along, the NFL penalized the two teams for overloading contracts in 2010 in order to take advantage of a salary cap loophole. Teams were reportedly advised against this salary dumping, but the rule was never in writing. The league has decided to take away a combined $46 million over two years and distribute it to the remaining teams (with the exception of New Orleans and Oakland).

Burbank will have his hands full in the arbitration, as the NFL has essentially struck down hard on a salary cap violation when there was technically no salary cap in place. And here's one more kink to be ironed out: John Mara, owner of the New York Giants and division rival of the Redskins and Cowboys, chairs the committee that docked the salary cap space. According to The New York Times, Mara asserts that "the penalties imposed were proper."

Eagles promo features Franklin Field

As if people needed to get hyped for the return of the NFL this week, the Eagles put together this "Heart" promo video for the season. If you look really closely you can see a few shots of the Frank from when the Eagles played there back in the day.

Penn prof. on ESPN as NFL Analyst

For those of you following intently as the NFL and the players' union hash it out over their collective bargaining agreement, which was set to expire today (before it was given a 24-hour extension), here's your Penn connection: ESPN recently picked up Penn sports law professor Andrew Brandt as an NFL business analyst. And he is all over Sportscenter talking about the talks:

(Just posted a new video so it should work)

Penn kicker Andrew Samson gets NFL representation?

CRMSportsManagement, which describes itself as a "full service athlete representation agency" on its Twitter account,  tweeted the following news which must be quite exciting for Penn kicker Andrew Samson and all Quakers' faithful:

Also...very excited to welcome our first client Andrew Samson, K, UPenn to the CRM family! #NFL #Draft #UPenn

Now with some representation, Samson will be more equipped to deal with any NFL opportunities that may come his way. The senior, who is Penn Football's all-time leading scorer, broke records like it was his job over his distinguished collegiate career — which you can see through this great graphic by our design department. See after the jump. Continue reading

Ivy League Football and the NFL

I know it's a few days late, but I just found this post on the New York Times college sports blog. According to Princeton head coach Roger Hughes, Ivy League football is similar to the NFL because of the recruiting restrictions placed by the League.

The post also brings up the oft-cited issue of banning the Ivy League regular season champion -- or for that matter any Ivy team -- from the Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.

While I certainly argree with the overturning the ban, I don't know if I can agree with the NFL comparison. Maybe if the Ivy League had limited scholarships instead of the limited lower academic slots, then the comparison to the salary cap would be better suited. Furthermore, the salary cap isn't that much of a hinderance to the top teams in the NFL. In fact, salary caps help cut ownership costs, which obviously is not a hinderance to NFL owners like the limited lower academic slots are to Ivy football coaches.