In today’s hyper-competitive NFL Draft prep climate, prospects have no shortage of training options. Many stay on campus, with access to state-of-the-art facilities and ex-teammates nearly any time they want. Others head to specialized training centers across the country, performance factories built to exact every drop of sweat out of their athletes.
Jack Coan, Notre Dame's quarterback last season, chose neither.
Coan opted for a more familiar setting: back home in Sayville, where he built his legacy as Long Island’s most prolific quarterback, throwing to high school receivers eager to get their own work in.
And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“This is the place that really made me who I am," Coan told Newsday. "They do a great job of preparing me here. I wouldn’t be anywhere else.”
After throwing for 9,787 yards and 128 touchdowns at Sayville, the former Hansen Award winner and three-time All-Long Island selection began his college career at Wisconsin. As a junior in 2019, he led the Badgers to the Rose Bowl, completing 69.6% of his passes for 2,727 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions in a run-heavy scheme.
He broke his foot before the 2020 season, and with heralded freshman Graham Mertz taking over, Coan transferred to Notre Dame for a graduate season in 2021. There, in a more up-tempo spread offense, he threw for 3,150 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 13 games.
“It was sort of a practice run for going from college to the NFL,” Coan said of the transfer. “Just the ability to go from one program to the next, pick up a whole new playbook right away, build relationships with new guys and try to become a leader right away.”
So far, Coan has met with several NFL teams, including both the Giants and Jets as a local prospect. The draft starts with the first round on April 28 and ends on April 30 with rounds 4-7. Coan is considered by draft analysts to be a possible Day 3 selection.
That’s fine by him, considering the guy he’s modeled his game after also was drafted late.
“I tried to study Tom Brady a lot over the years,” Coan said. “Just his football IQ and ability to process plays, and his footwork and the way he throws the ball and the way he works. He’s been an idol of mine and someone I’ve tried to emulate.”
Brady began as Drew Bledsoe’s backup in New England before being thrust into the starting role in his second year. In a league where teams often throw rookies into the Week 1 fire, Coan is OK with following Brady’s example yet again.
“Anywhere that takes me, I’ll be extremely happy,” he said, “but I think for me personally I’d like to sit behind a veteran quarterback right away and just learn what made him successful in the league and try to learn as much as I could from him.”
It’s that willingness to learn that he feels gives him an edge over other quarterback prospects in this class.
“That’s something I work extremely hard at — just always watching film, studying the playbook, studying defenses, things like that,” he said. “At the next level, I feel like the guys who make it are the ones that can really process the playbook and defenses, what’s happening situationally in the game. And I think I have the ability to do that.”
Coan has been working out with former Sayville head coach Rob Hoss, current head coach Reade Sands and longtime trainer Justin Kull of Revolution Athletics. On throwing days, they recruit high school football players to come and catch passes at the school's turf field. Some play for Sands at Sayville; others attend different schools but have a mutual connection in Kull.
It’s a win-win: Coan gets to keep his arm fresh, and the players get to catch passes from a local legend, stay in shape themselves and maybe snap a photo with him afterward.
“You see how high of a level he plays at, and it motivates you to play at a higher level,” said Mike Galante, a Connetquot sophomore who worked out with Coan on Monday. “And it makes a difference, because when you see someone that good, you’re almost forced to become a better player.”
The last Long Island quarterback to be drafted was Mike Buck in 1990, also from Sayville. The Vinny Testaverdes and Boomer Esiasons largely have been the exception rather than the rule, but Coan still appreciates those who walked the path before him and wants to be the model for the next generation.
“It would mean a ton to me,” he said. “You don’t see too many guys from here go [to the NFL], so I hope I’m the next guy in line that can inspire kids to do the same as me, no matter what position they are.”
Occasionally, passerbys will see Coan working out and stop to say hi. Coan, of course, obliges — as he’s always done, since he hasn’t been one to forget his roots. During postgame interviews in college, he’d often don not his college gear, but a Sayville football T-shirt, or a sweatshirt of his father’s landscaping company.
“He’s just a bigger version of his younger self,” said Sands, who was Sayville’s defensive coordinator during Coan’s tenure. “He’s always been a hard work ethic kid, and I can’t believe how kind he is . . . We’re all just really happy that he’s getting this opportunity.”
Coan hopes to take that energy with him on the next step of his journey.
Said Coan: “Whoever drafts me, they’re getting the whole Sayville community.”