Defensive end Mike Catapano has been turning heads in recent weeks, and if all goes right for the Bayville native, he could be the first Ivy League player selected in next month's NFL draft.
At least, that's what NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt thinks.
At his Princeton pro day March 20, Catapano worked out for representatives from 15 NFL teams, including the defensive line coach of the Cincinnati Bengals Jay Hayes.
The 6-3, 271-pound Catapano ran the 40-yard dash in 4.75 seconds on each attempt and recorded a 37 1/2-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-8 broad jump. He benched 225 pounds 33 times and ran the short shuttle in 4.31 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.09 seconds.
According to Brandt, the former Cowboys vice president of player personnel (1960-'89), could be drafted between the fourth and fifth rounds. Offensve lineman Dennis Norman was the last Princeton player selected in the NFL draft -- taken in the seventh round by Seattle in 2001. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, also a former Tiger, went undrafted in 1989 but played eight NFL seasons at quarterback.
Catapano, a Chaminade graduate, had private workouts with the Eagles (who worked him out as an outside linebacker) and the Vikings last week.
Catapano, who played both fullback and defensive lineman in high school, played just seven total games as a junior and senior at Chaminade because of two separate hand injuries and shoulder surgery.
"That's one of the reasons you choose a Princeton over a Division I school, because it could be over any second," Catapano told Newsday back in 2008. "You could tear your ACL in any game and then that's it. But if you're in an environment like that, you can always rebound to something better."
Other Ivy Leaguers to keep an eye on, according to Brandt: Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk and Cornell receiver Luke Tasker, son of former Buffalo Bill Steve.