Two players from Long Island land NFL contracts as undrafted rookies

Massachusetts offensive linesman Anthony Dima holds up the Massachusetts offensive linesman Anthony Dima holds up the ball after recovering a fumble during the first half of an NCAA football game against Maine in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday Sept. 7, 2013. Photo Credit: AP / Stephan Savoia

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Two Long Islanders landed contracts as undrafted rookies with NFL teams this week.

Centereach High School graduate Anthony Dima signed with the Browns Monday after anchoring the offensive line at left tackle for the University of Massachusetts the past two seasons. Dima started his college career at Hofstra in 2009 before the Pride dropped its football program. He transferred to UMass in 2010 and became a full-time starter in 2011.

At 6-7, 300 pounds, Dima earned Mid-American Conference third team all-conference honors after the 2013 season. He finished his career making 31 starts in 34 games for the Minutemen, including 11 starts in 2013. With Dima leading the way, UMass's pass protection improved: the group allowed 16 sacks in 2013 after permitting 32 sacks in 2012.

Dima's father, Frank, said other NFL teams expressed interest in the lineman's services.

"We expected him to sign or be a late-round draft pick because there was interest and he has the NFL size frame, the size of a bull," said Charles McMillen, Centereach's football coach when Dima was a senior. "I thought the sky was the limit and he had all the potential in the world in high school. He listened to coaches at both colleges, who were able to tap into his potential, and worked hard from there. And I was ecstatic to see him do well after Hofstra."

Bryan Johnson, a defensive end who played one year of varsity football at Bellport High School before blossoming at Nassau Community College and later West Texas A&M, signed with the Bills Tuesday.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Last season, Johnson (6-4, 250 pounds) made 50 tackles, including 81/2 for a loss, with four sacks in 14 games. He also made an impact in 2012 when he racked up 39 tackles, including 15 solo stops, in 14 games.

Former Bellport football coach Joe Cipp said Johnson was a late bloomer who worked hard in the weight room before college. He wasn't a starter at Bellport, Cipp said, yet at NCC, Johnson helped to lead the Lions to a 19-2 record during his two seasons while a two-time Northeast all-conference selection.

"He was probably 6-1, 165 pounds at Bellport, but he had such a great work ethic," Cipp said. "It's a credit to him, for going that route, developing late and not giving up. There aren't many success stories from the route that he took."

Subscribe to Newsday’s sports newsletter for stories, photos and videos about your favorite New York teams plus national sports news and events.

You also may be interested in: