Senior receiver knocking on NFL’s doorstep

Less than a decade ago, nobody at Seton Hill University (SHU) could have dreamed that any student from SHU could have a (NFL) career in his future. Senior wide receiver Sammy Tranks might just make that impossible dream come true.

By Sean Maiolo

Business/Ad Manager

Less than a decade ago, nobody at Seton Hill University (SHU) could have dreamed that any student from SHU could have a (NFL) career in his future. Senior wide receiver Sammy Tranks might just make that impossible dream come true.

Following a fantastic junior season in which Tranks posted staggering numbers including 1,860 all-purpose yards, seven touchdown catches, and five combined touchdowns on kick and punt returns, NFL scouts began to take notice. His selection to the (WVIAC) first team added to his allure among pro scouts.

Unfortunately, Tranks spent much of his senior season battling injuries that caused a sharp decline in his numbers. His all-purpose yards dropped to 1,136 and he only managed to reach the end zone four times, none of which came on returns.

His agent, Scott Rochelle, acknowledged that Tranks had several hindrances to overcome even before injuries beset his senior season.

“Two things hurt Sammy,” he said. “Sammy was a big talent at a small school and he just didn’t get the nationwide attention that some other guys got. The other thing that hurt Sammy was that he didn’t really get on the field as much as he did his junior year his senior year.

However, that does not mean he’s any less talented than any of those other guys.”
Tranks came back with a strong enough pro day at Temple University earlier this spring to get his name back onto the short list of several NFL teams including the Steelers, Eagles and Vikings.

“I spent a month out in Chicago working out and training for my pro day,” Tranks said. “I actually had some of the best numbers that were posted at that pro day for receivers.”
With his name back in the conversation in NFL circles, Tranks now only seeks the opportunity to put his skills on display to show that he does in fact belong with world’s elite in his sport.

“Sammy’s got a skill set that’s second to none,” said Brendan Murphy, Tranks’ receiving coach at SHU. “That kid’s a whole lot of explosion in a little body. He can get in and out of breaks better than a lot of kids I’ve seen in my coaching experience.”

Tranks’ head coach, Joel Dolinski, noted that on top of physical skills, Tranks also has something else NFL teams are valuing more and more: character.

“Sammy’s been a guy that’s never caused us any problems,” he said. “Coming from inner city Philly, he’s overcome a great deal to come to college to further his education.”
Despite possessing all the tools to make it on the professional level, breaking into the NFL also requires a little luck. Tranks was not among the 255 players drafted in the 75th NFL draft which ran from Apr. 22 to Apr. 24 in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.

As of April 27, Tranks and his agent had yet to be extended an undrafted free agent contract from any of the 32 teams.

Recently hired assistant coach Kinnon Tatum spent three seasons playing linebacker for the Carolina Panthers after being taken in the third round of the 1997 NFL draft out of Notre Dame.

“All of it takes work. Nothing is easy,” he said. “If it was easy, everybody would be in the NFL who played college football.”

Getting lucky is where Rochelle comes into the fold. His job is to present Tranks as a viable enough option for a team to sign him to a contract.

“Our goal has been to shed light on the things he does well,” he said. “My job’s been to focus on Sammy’s strengths which have been receiving and kick returning. Kick returning is a specialty which can earn someone a good, lucrative career in the NFL.”

“All you can ask for is if you have an NFL scout or coach or team to take a look at the film,” Dolinski added. “It’s tougher at the smaller schools. There are not a whole lot of jobs out there to go get and it’s a really tough nut to crack.”

Rochelle remains convinced that his client will find a team and show that he is worth the investment.

“The beauty of the NFL is that they invest heavily in scouting and making sure that no talent goes unnoticed,” he said. “I think that Sammy’s talented enough and I think that once the first cuts start happening, someone’s going to take a deeper look at Sammy. We fully expect Sammy to land somewhere in a minicamp or training camp this spring and summer.”

Tranks conceded that he is disappointed that no team has brought him in yet. At the same time, he remained optimistic and vowed to continue working hard toward achieving his ultimate dream.

“To even have my name mentioned in the same sentence as the NFL and to have NFL teams interested has been a great experience and a great process,” he said. “Right now it’s just a waiting game. I know God has a plan and purpose in my life and I’m still very confident that this is one of them.”