The NFL is littered with players, coaches and GMs from alums from some of the most well known college football factories in the history of the game. Notre Dame. USC. John Carroll.
Wait, who is John Carroll?
The better question is WHAT is John Carroll and why has it become the breeding ground for NFL luminaries of all types?
John Carroll University is a private Jesuit University in University Heights, OH with an enrollment of just 3,650 students. It competes in Division III college athletics so it cannot provide athletic scholarships for its 23 varsity sports teams. Yet, the Blue Streak football program's impact is seen all over the NFL.
Texans GM Nick Caserio and special Teams Coordinator Frank Ross both graduated from John Carroll and that duo represents the southwestern branch of the Carroll graduate tree. Out to Las Vegas, new Head Coach Josh McDaniels, a John Carroll teammate of Caserio, and new GM Dave Ziegler were Blue Streaks as well. Further west is Chargers head coach Brandon Staley who was the Blue Streaks defensive coordinator in 2015 and 2016. The Chargers GM Tom Telesco was also a John Carroll alum. Longtime NFL coordinator, former Texans offensive coordinator and current leader of the Ravens offense Greg Roman was, yes, also a John Carroll alum.
Scouring the league is bound to turn up a John Carrollian (if that's what they're called) somewhere. As I did that out of curiosity, I found as many as a dozen teams or more that have a John Carroll graduate, or a former John Carroll coach, in an NFL building. Perhaps they all followed one of the greatest NFL head coaches in history - Don Shula or one of the greatest linebackers to play the game - London Fletcher. Either way, it's a remarkable pipeline that I'm sure no one really saw coming, honestly.
I've recognized the impact and seen the impact in the numbers from the Ohio university, but it struck again when we were at the Combine. Marc, Tyler and I walked back from dinner late last night and on our trek back to our hotel, we saw two young men both wearing John Carroll University sweatshirts. I pointed it out to Marc who then yelled out "CRADLE OF COACHES."
One of the men responded with "yes, yes it is."
He wasn't lying, either.