Gilbert Pena of Yonkers a 'huge' NFL Draft prospect
After graduating from Saunders High School in Yonkers, Gilbert Pena took four years off from playing football to care for his mother, who was battling cancer.
"I didn't want to leave her alone,” Pena told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in December. “Eighteen years she'd been raising me, taking care of me. The least I could do was go out and get a job and kind of help her around the house and take some stress off her.”
During that layoff and in the years since, however, Pena ballooned from 265 pounds to 334 and consequently morphed from a tight end into a nose tackle. He resumed his football career at ASA College in Brooklyn before attracting the attention of Mississippi, Miami of Ohio and North Carolina. He chose Ole Miss.
Pena, 26, is now hoping to hear his name called at this week’s NFL Draft. He is projected to be selected in the late rounds or become one of the first undrafted players to be snatched up as a free agent.
Pena, who stands 6 feet, 2½ inches, has the size needed to clog up running lanes and free up linebackers to make plays in the NFL. During his senior year at Ole Miss, Pena had 34 tackles (6½ for losses) and two sacks.
Pena, who ran the 40-yard dash in 5.51 seconds at Ole Miss' Pro Day, also has demonstrated “a surprising burst of quickness and array of pass rush moves to go along with his run-stuffing expertise,” the website Inside the War Room wrote. “Make no mistake, Pena’s never going to be one to consistently get into the backfield in the NFL and his snaps will obviously need to be managed carefully.
“Players of his size are always going to be in high demand and Pena should have plenty of potential suitors once the draft reaches its latter rounds,” the site added.
The Giants and Jets are among the teams that have shown interest in him.