Monmouth University; the small private college planted in the heart of the Jersey Shore, surely cannot produce professional quality athletes, correct? There is much doubt that a school of such size and caliber will ever contribute to the ranks of the NFL, NBA, MLB and various other professional outlets…Boy could that assumption be farther from right! Monmouth University, since its inception, has seen its share of draft picks and names heard once or twice on nationally broadcast television.
Today’s focus will not be so much on every name of an alumnus who wore a professional athletic jersey, but to focus in on a handful which will dramatically change your perspective on the athletic talent here at MU.
Surely the name Miles Austin jumps out, especially as he repeats the words “Attended Monmouth University” on Sunday Night Football, Monmouth is the alma mater of Kevin Owens, a New Jersey born professional basketball player who has seen time in the NBA Developmental League and is now in Estonian professional basketball. Fellow Hawk alumni and basketball player Alex Blackwell made the leap to the NBA in the early nineties and put Division-1 Monmouth on the map as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Other notable alumni from the Monmouth hardwood, according to basketball-reference.com include names of draftees John Blair, Clair McRoberts, Bill Terry, and Don Wiley, who undoubtedly contributed immensely to the Hawk program in their heydays.
As a Division-1 AA football member, critics might claim the program cannot produce NFL ready players. But this again would be an untimely guess. Monmouth-groomed athletes have seen their share of NFL gameplay. This of course includes Dallas Cowboys’ stand-out receiver Miles Austin, but also: John Nalbone, former MU tight end who was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 2005. In more recent Hawk football history, former players Chris Hogan and Tom Ottaiano received serious NFL prospecting. Wide receiver Hogan was signed by the 49ers as an undrafted free agent early in the season and later was signed to the New York Giants practice squad. Ottaiano, an MU offensive lineman, was drafted by the New York Jets before the 2011 season.
A respectable baseball pro-gram such as the one situated at MU bares no ignoring…much respect should be paid to them as they’ve seen countless numbers of players go on to the professional ranks. Those taken deserve a high respect level and include names like: seventies professional Ed Halicki, former MU standout and recent San Diego Padres September call-up Brad Brach, and recent graduate Ryan Terry who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011. This only touches on Monmouth’s historic baseball past, but clearly, eyes must be opening as the column continues.
A nationally-ranked men’s soccer program will clearly be expected to put forth professional caliber athletes…and that’s just what the coaching staff here did! Players such as Bryan Meredith and Ryan Kinne entered the MLS in 2010 and Hugh McDonald, who played for the New York Red Bulls, even represented his West Long Branch roots in the MLS. These names only touch on a few of the outstanding athletes who have ran across the sacred Great Lawn in history. RJ Allen, just drafted by Chivas USA, is the next name to watch out for. The Women’s soccer program can even add that they produced the US National Team’s captain in Christie Rampone. Surely, the critics must be silenced by now.
A professional coaching staff may overlook the immense athletic drive this small school holds. But after briefing one’s self on the broad history of dominant talent that has passed through the campus, maybe talent scouts may want to book their next trip to an MU athletic event. Being a part of the NEC, which itself has a history of producing professional athletes, Monmouth’s future in the area can only be bright. As our programs continue to rise in national stature, attention will only begin to wane more and more towards the potentially of this oh-so-small private ‘Jersey college.’