Each season linebacker Nick DeLuca completed at North Dakota State, the Bison won the FCS national championship.
He’d be a sure-fire NFL draft pick if not for injury concerns from the last two years — season-ending shoulder surgery in 2016 and some early-season knee problems in '17, which he returned from to help lead NDSU to its sixth national title in the last seven years.
DeLuca hopes to answer any questions this week at the 69th Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. All 32 NFL teams will be in attendance at practices and for interviews before the premier college football all-star game is played on Saturday.
“After dealing with injuries the past two seasons, DeLuca's medicals will be an important step to his draft grade,” said Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com. “He is a highly intelligent player who directs traffic and fills with a stone shoulder to break down and finish in space. A draftable player based on film, the medicals will determine whether or not his name is called.”
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound DeLuca totaled 329 tackles in his career, including 135 in 2015, and was a two-time Butkus Award nominee. Set to play for the North roster, he is part of a 15-player contingent from the FCS, which is higher than usual. Stony Brook offensive tackle Timon Parris would have made for 16 if not for his recovery from a fractured fibula suffered in October.
The South roster includes South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert (above, right), who is considered a Round 2-type talent and the top prospect on the FCS level, as well as Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta.
Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph and his staff will coach the North squad, while Bill O'Brien and the Houston Texans' staff will lead the South.
69th Reese’s Senior Bowl
When: Saturday, Jan. 27 at 2:30 p.m. ET
Where: Ladd-Peebles Stadium (Mobile, Ala.)
TV Channel: NFL Network
FCS players on North Roster (with uniform number)
Maine offensive tackle Jamil Demby (65); North Dakota State inside linebacker Nick DeLuca (49); Brown defensive end Richard “Dewey” Jarvis (95); Weber State cornerback Taron Johnson (26); Delaware defensive tackle Bilal Nichols (92), The Citadel inside linebacker Myles Pierce (50); Penn wide receiver Justin Watson (15)
FCS players on South Roster (with uniform number)
South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert (86); Southern cornerback Danny Johnson (24); Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta (5); South Carolina State outside linebacker Darius Leonard (50); Jacksonville State cornerback Siran Neal (5); North Carolina A&T offensive tackle Brandon Parker (72); Idaho State offensive guard Skyler Phillips (79); Murray State cornerback D’Montre Wade (23)
— Written by Craig Haley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Haley has covered the FCS level since 1999 and is the national writer for www.fcs.football. He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter @CraigHaley.
(Nick DeLuca photo courtesy North Dakota State Athletics; Dallas Goedert photo courtesy of South Dakota State Athletics)