One step closer to the NFL

Elmont natives are invited to scouting combine

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More than 300 of the nation’s best college football players have been invited to take part in the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. The players will show off their raw talent March 1-5, while top executives, coaches and personnel from all 32 NFL teams evaluate the athletes for the upcoming NFL Draft. Among the players looking to prove themselves will be Elmont native Greg Senat.

Senat, of the Wagner University Seahawks, caught the NFL’s attention after he became the first player from the Northeast Conference to play in the East-West Shrine All-Star Game on Jan. 20. The game gathers the best college players from around the country to take part in a charity game to benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children. Now Senat has become the second player from the NEC to be invited to the Combine. With these accomplishments under his belt, it’s hard to believe that his college football career began only two years ago.

Prepping for the NFL

“I remember when he came up to me around the spring of 2016,” said Jason Houghtaling, Wagner’s head football coach. “He was really competitive, but he hadn’t played football since he was in high school.”

Senat played for the Elmont Memorial Spartans before transferring to Marianapolis Prep School in Connecticut during his junior year. He went on to Wagner, where he joined the men’s basketball team, which won the NEC championship in 2016. But Senat felt as if something was missing.

“In basketball, a team can win by having one or two star players,” he explained. “But in football, everyone has to be great. There’s such a strong comrade mentality, and I wanted that.”

After Senat approached Houghtaling and received the coach’s approval, he started a crash course in college football. He practiced day and night to learn the team’s plays and lingo, watching footage of the Seahawks to make up for his late start. Senat even gained more than 30 pounds when he switched from tight end to offensive tackle. And he still played forward for the Wagner basketball team, despite weighing 285 pounds, about 40 pounds heavier than the average starting forward, according to a 2014 Business Insider article on the weight and size of professional athletes. Senat played 22 games in the 2016-17 basketball season, shooting 50 percent from the field and averaging 2.6 rebounds in 10 minutes of play.

“It was an interesting transition going back to basketball, but I found myself being better and faster than before,” he said.

Senat said that being a two-sport athlete was hard, but his dream is to make it to the NFL, to play among the best in the U.S. And he got a taste of that when he was picked to play at the 93rd Shrine All-Star Game. Senat headed to St. Petersburg, Fla., where the game was held, and trained with the country’s top college players, learning to keep up with their speed and talent. He was the only two-sport athlete there, and he built enough confidence with the coaches during those training days that he was picked as one of the starting offensive tackles for the West. The team won 14-10.

“It was his reward for all the training he went through, “ Houghtaling said. “He hasn’t even reached his full potential yet.”

NFL long shot

Senat knows that making it to the NFL might be a long shot, but several sports outlets like SB Nation list him as a promising player to keep in mind for the draft. He has been training ever since the season ended last November, building up his speed and strength and bulking up to show off to NFL scouts.

Rich Sadiv, director of the NFL Combine Program for the Parisi Speed School in Fair Lawn, N.J., is training Senat. The Parisi School is one of the leading authorities in preparing college players for the Combine, producing players who have gone on to notch top scores in several of its varied skills tests.

“Some people don’t even make it this far, and I’m thankful to be in this position,” Senat said.

And he isn’t the only Elmont area native to be invited to the Combine. Timon Parris, an offensive tackle for the Stony Brook Seawolves and a Floral Park High School alumnus, will also be attending. Although he hasn’t received much attention recently, Parris’s record of earning first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors as a full-time starter at left tackle in 2016 makes him a promising prospect for the draft.

The Combine will start on March 1, with the bench press and interviews. On-field workouts for offensive linemen like Senat and Parris will begin on March 2. The three-day 2018 NFL Draft will start on April 26 in Arlington, Texas.