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January 12. 2013 9:19PM

NH College Notebook: Londonderry's Griffin eyeing his shot at the NFL


 

WHEN they were teammates on the University of Connecticut football team, New Hampshire natives Kendall Reyes and Ryan Griffin would talk during their long car rides back to the Granite State about what it would be like if they both got to play in the NFL.

Last year, Reyes, of Nashua, was selected in the second round of the NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers. A defensive end, he had a solid rookie season, recording 28 tackles, including 5.5 sacks.

This year, Griffin is improving his chances to follow in Reyes' footsteps. Earlier this month, the tight end out of Londonderry High was named to play in the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic on Jan. 29 in Montgomery, Ala.

A 6-foot 6-inch, 250-pound senior, Griffin said he also has been invited to the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis from Feb. 23-26.

"It can only help," Griffin said of what playing in the all-star game will do for his prospects of being drafted. "I'm just taking it one step at a time, focusing every day, trying to get better."

This is the inaugural year for the Raycom Classic, which will feature elite college seniors who participate in NFL-formatted practices that are open to the public in the week leading up to the game. The game itself will take place at the Cramton Bowl and air on CBS at 2 p.m.

Griffin will play for the Stripes team under former Denver Broncos coach Dan Reeves. Robert Marve of Purdue and Jon Richt of Mars Hill (N.C.) College will be the Stripes quarterbacks.

Griffin, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Friday, ranks second all-time among tight ends at UConn in career receptions (116) and touchdowns (10). He was named the Huskies' Offensive Player of the Year, with 29 receptions, 6 touchdowns and 484 yards this past season, numbers that also made him and All-Big East second-team selection.

Last week, he spent some time training for the game at the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Fla., where NFL rookie sensation Robert Griffin III was recovering from surgery.

Ryan Griffin said there were about 25 players training at the Institute, including defensive end Barkevious Mingo of LSU and defensive back JJ Wilcox of Georgia Southern.

"It's good to work against guys you know are going to get drafted," Griffin said. "They are the elite in college."

So, did the kid from Londonderry ever think he'd be in a position where he'd be considered for the NFL draft.

"No way," Griffin said. "I was just playing for fun. I didn't think I'd get a scholarship to play anywhere. I've come so far in not just football - in becoming a man. I'm really grateful for that."


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SOUTHERN New Hampshire University recently posted its job vacancy for a successor to longtime director of athletics Chip Polak and immediately began receiving inquiries from prospective candidates, according to a school spokesman.

Gregg Mazzola, SNHU's associate vice president of marketing and communications, said the university will accept applications through the end of February and begin contacting candidates for interviews in March.

"Ideally, we'll have a person on board by June first," Mazzola said. "There's a Northeast-10 athletic directors meeting June third and fourth. From a time-table standpoint, we'd like to have a person in place to attend that meeting.

Mazzola expects the pace of receiving applications to accelerate this week, with the NCAA convention taking place in Grapevine, Texas.


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MERRIMACK High graduate Rebecca Giacapuzzi was named a second-team NSCAA Junior College Division III All-American after completing a record-breaking season for the Finger Lakes Community College women's soccer team.

Giacapuzzi, a forward, had 18 goals and 12 assists to help lead the Lady Lakers to their best season ever. The conference champions finished 18-2-1 and advanced to the Region III B Final.

Giacapuzzi, who finished her two-year career at Finger Lakes in Canandaigua, N.Y., with 30 goals and 21 assists, also was named to the NJCAA all-region first team and the NSCAA Junior College Division III All-Northeast Team.


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TWO FORMER New Hampshire Union Leader All-State selections took to the court when Hartford and host Maine met in women's basketball on Jan. 9. Maine sophomore forward Danielle Walczak of Lee had the better statistical night, but and Pembroke Academy graduate Alex Hall and her Hartford teammates prevailed, 52-37.

Walczak, the 2011 Union Leader Player of the Year as a senior at Oyster River High of Durham, finished with 15 points and 3 rebounds as Maine lost its 11th-straight game and fell to 1-14 overall and 0-2 in America East. Hall had 6 points to help Hartford improve to 10-6, 1-2.

Walczak entered the weekend second on the Maine team with 9.6 points per game and third with 4.6 rebounds per game.

Hall, who also played for Trinity High of Manchester before spending her last two seasons at Pembroke Academy, began yesterday averaging 6.1 points and 2.2 rebounds.


New Hampshire Union Leader staff reporters John Habib, Craig Liadis and Mark Quirk contributed. Email suggestions for "College Notebook" to sports@unionleader.com.


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