Huskie gridders hoping to cut it professionally

By David Lance

During this time of year, life gets hectic for the Cuts of Beef, the prospective National Football League player.

These viands go through months of tests given by NFL scouts, pro football’s version of the Food and Drug Administration. They are prodded, they are asked to do this, asked to do that. All to see if they can cut it in the NFL.

If they are prime choice—porterhouses—the prodders report it back to their bosses. These players are selected in the early rounds of the draft, which starts Sunday. Price tags on these cuts are high.

If they are a notch below the best—ground round—the scouts tell their bosses they are middle-round selections.

The meats the scouts think have too many deficiencies—ground chuck—are told to seek employment elsewhere.

Welcome to NIU, the land of ground round.

Three seniors from NIU’s 1991 football team, fullback Adam Dach, linebacker Steve Henriksen and defensive end Scott Van Bellinger, have kept running and lifting weights in hopes of playing pro ball.

“I think I have a possibility of getting drafted in the late rounds,” said Dach, who finished as NIU’s third all-time rusher with 3,438 yards. “The teams are pretty vague. They don’t tell you how interested they are in you. It’s a guessing game.”

“I hope someone gives me a chance,” said Henriksen, who had the second most tackles (191) in the nation last year.

“If it does happen (gets drafted), I’ll be ready,” said Van Bellinger, who had 30 career tackles for losses.

Dach said no NIU players were invited to the February NFL combines for two reasons.

“If we played in Big Ten schools, we would have been invited,” he said. “Second, we’re 2-9.”

Dach said playing in the Wishbone all his college career closeted most of his skills. “But the good thing about it is it taught me how to block,” Dach said.

Dach said six or seven NFL teams have shown interest in him, but didn’t want to get specific because plans aren’t definite.

Henriksen is puzzled as to why no NFL team has contacted him or his agent.

“The only thing I can think of is my time in the 40 (yard dash),” said Henriksen, who runs it in 4.9 seconds. “We’re going to try to see if someone will give me a tryout. It doesn’t really look good for me. If (the scouts) know something they’re not telling me.

“I went to a scout camp in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. I did real well. I’m realistic. Maybe I’ll play a year in the World League. Maybe I’ll get attention that way.”

Van Bellinger said he is getting attention, despite having had surgery on his right foot in January.

“The (New York) Giants and Dallas (Cowboys) wanted me to test,” Van Bellinger said. “(New York) came to school here this semester. Teams wanted to run me, and all I could do was watch films.”

When Bellinger broke his right foot in practice a couple of days after the first game of the season. Later in the season he broke his other foot from favoring his left leg. The left foot has heeled on its own and Van Bellinger said he is nearing 100 percent.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Van Bellinger said.