Tag:Matt Szczur
Posted on: January 19, 2011 12:35 pm
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Szczur picks MLB's guaranteed $ over NFL chances

Matt Szczur's football career is apparently over.

The Villanova star, who had agreed to play in next week's Senior Bowl in the hopes of impressing NFL scouts, instead decided the guaranteed dollars of Major League Baseball was too much to pass up , according to an article by Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Szczur (pronounced "See-zer") was drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Chicago Cubs and played in the Cubs' minor league system this summer.  Upon signing a contract with the team, Szczur was given $100,000 and promised an additional $500,000 if he committed to the Cubs and shunned the NFL prior to next month's Scouting Combine.

Szczur wanted to explore his NFL options, turning down the 500,000 bonus. When the Cubs tripled their offer Tuesday, however, Szczur took the 1.5 million dollars and turned his attention to back to baseball.

Szczur had been a standout football and baseball player for the Wildcats throughout his entire career. A 2009 consensus All-American and the Colonial Athletic Conference Offensive and Special Teams Player of the Year, Szczur is perhaps the most widely accomplished "small school" prospect in the country. As such, it wasn't a huge surprise when the Senior Bowl made him (and teammate, offensive tackle Ben Ijalana) an early invites to the prestigious all-star game.

Szczur struggled with injuries early in the 2010 season, but was his typically spectacular self down the stretch, earning my Diamond in the Rough honors after a particularly impressive performance against Stephen F. Austin in the FCS playoffs.

An outfielder with great speed and live bat, he played at three levels in the Cubs organization last summer, batting .347 with a .414 on-base percentage and a .465 slugging percentage in 25 total games.

As part of the agreement, Szczur will not play in the Senior Bowl or participate in the Combine.

Posted on: December 31, 2010 10:02 pm
 

My Favorite Draft Stories of 2010

The 2010 season has been overrun with stories of scandal, sanctions and distractions from the competition and passion that makes college football great.

So, with so much of the year focused on negative stories that occurred off the field, I thought it appropriate to highlight some of the positive off-field stories, as well.
The following are links to my 10 favorite draft stories of 2010.
 
Did I miss some? I hope so. Feel free to chime in with some of yours too.


These last four stories are obviously not as heart-wrenching or important as the first six. They do, however, serve as reminders as to what is right about college football in a year when so many devoted so much time to what is wrong with it.

On behalf of everyone at NFLDraftScout.com, have a happy and safe New Year!
Posted on: December 19, 2010 2:21 pm
 

Stars fail to shine in FBS, FCS upsets

Fresno State pass rusher Chris Carter and Villanova wideout Matt Szczur are well on their way to being NFL draft picks next April. They'll be hoping that scouts focus more on the brilliant careers, rather than the sputtering production each provided in their final games.

Carter, the 2010 WAC Defensive Player of the Year, was held without a tackle in Northern Illinois' dominating 40-17 victory over the Bulldogs yesterday in the Humanitarian Bowl.

Szczur, who had scored a combined five touchdowns on 383 yards as a runner, receiver and Wildcat quarterback over the Wildcats' first two playoff games, was held to only 67 total yards in the loss to Eastern Washington.

It was not surprising to see the 6-2, 240 pound Carter washed out against the run while playing defensive end. As you'd expect for a player of his size, he often was blown off the ball and wasn't able to keep contain, as the Huskies averaged 7.3 yards per rush.

What was a surprise, however, was that Carter was blanked as a pass rusher, as well. The nation's 7th best sack artist (11 on the year), Carter was unable to get clear and make a play despite being 80 pounds lighter than the Huskies' junior right tackle Keith Otis. That fact will concern scouts who like Carter as a potential 3-4 convert and 4-3 SAM linebacker. 

Matt Szczur's impact on the FCS semi-final contest against Eastern Washington was more impressive statistically-speaking than Carter's was, but not by much.

Szczur rushed nine times for 36 yards and caught four passes for 25 yards. He did rush for a touchdown, a one-yard QB sneak that narrowed the Eagles' lead to 20-14 in the second quarter, but only after fumbling the kickoff to instantly kill the previous drive. Szczur's fumble was recovered by EWU and led to an Eagles' touchdown.

I expect both players to enjoy bounce-back performances in any all-star games they're invited to. (The Senior Bowl has already extended Szczur an invitiation).

Unfortunately, while they may be wearing their university's decal on their helmet in that game, the final games for Carter and Szczur for Fresno State and Villanova, respectively, were disappointing.
Posted on: December 17, 2010 7:01 pm
 

Legit NFL talent in tonight's FCS playoff game

Need to scratch that football itch?

There is an exciting game tonight in the FCS -- where they let playoffs determine the national champion.

Villanova and Eastern Washington meet tonight for the chance to play in the championship game. It should be an exciting game. If you haven't seen a game from Roos Field in Cheney Washington, you should tune in for a moment just to see the field. It's red.

NFL scouts will be tuning in for a different reason - the fact that 'Nova and Eastern each boast legitimate pro talent.

The greater talent lies with the defending champion Wildcats. Left tackle Ben Ijalana is the best of the small school linemen and ranks among the top ten senior tackles in all of college football, in my opinion. His quick feet, good balance and long arms could keep him outside in the pros, though some teams project him inside as a guard.

The most exciting prospect in the game is Villanova's do-everything weapon Matt Szczur . By do-everything, I mean take a peek at what he's done in the two playoff games so far: 25 rushes for 172 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and three touchdowns, 16 receptions for 153 yards and one score and 2-of-2 passing for 58 yards and another touchdown. Szczur earned a spot as Diamond in the Rough -- the most impressive small school player of the week -- earlier in the year. Oh, and he's a terrific baseball player too. So good, in fact, that the Chicago Cubs drafted him last year in the fifth round. He hit safely in 21 consecutive games over the summer for their minor league teams.

Ijalana and Szczur have each been invited to the Senior Bowl and are viewed as possible Top 100 prospects in the 2011 draft.

Eastern has a lot of talent, as well, but was dealt a blow last weekend. Their junior star running back Taiwan Jones broke his foot in the fourth quarter of Eastern's win over North Dakota State. Jones was spectacular in that contest, rushing for 230 yards and a touchdown before breaking the fifth metatarsal of his left foot. Jones, an All-American, rushed for 1,742 yards and 14 scores this year. There was some buzz in the scouting community that he was looking into leaving Eastern early for the NFL.

The Eagles feature another intriguing junior prospect in defensive tackle Renard Williams . The 6-2, 300 pounder posted 43 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks on the season. I love to see interior defenders that know how to knock the ball free and Williams did precisely that this season, forcing a team-high four fumbles on the year. Like Jones, Williams had a spectacular game against North Dakota State, registering three tackles for loss, including two sacks. Williams also forced a fumble and intercepted a pass.

The defensive player you'll hear the most about is linebacker J.C. Sherritt . Sherritt earned the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year award this season because, quite frankly, he's a tackling machine. Sherritt is Eastern's all-time leader 406 stops, including 15 last week. Scouts don't believe he has the size (5-10, 220) to remain at mike linebacker in the NFL and some teams are projecting him to strong safety. Sherritt does not appear to have the agility or speed to make this conversion in today's pass-happy NFL. Sherritt does play with spectacular instincts, however, and is fun to watch. Some team will give him a well-deserved chance to beat the odds.

This game will be played tonight (Friday) at 8:00 pm EST and televised by ESPN2.

They may be televising the game, but you should know by now where to get the best analysis.

As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.




Posted on: December 11, 2010 10:09 pm
 

Underrated prospects prove worth in FCS playoffs

On a day when most of the college football world was focused on four players dressed in suits in New York City, there was some exciting on-field action and legitimate pro prospects also on display.

Reviewing all of the quarterfinal FCS games this weekend, there were several standout performances.

The most impressive, not surprisingly, came from Villanova wide receiver and Wildcat quarterback Matt Szczur. Szczur, my reigning Diamond in the Rough as the best small school prospect of the week, scored five touchdowns -- rushing for three, passing for one and catching -- in the Wildcats' 42-24 victory over No. 1 ranked Appalachian State.

Szczur, who battled a high ankle sprain for much of this season, clearly has regained his explosiveness, impressing not only with his agility and speed, but with improved route-running from just last week (when he accounted for 196 yards as a runner and receiver and scored a touchdown against Stephen F. Austin.

Draft Slant fans know precisely how high I am on Nova's "other" draft prospect, left tackle Ben Ijalana. His quick feet and good balance again stood out against the Mountaineers.

Szczur and Ijalana have already been invited to the Senior Bowl, the most prestigious all-star game in college football and one usually reserved for FBS prospects.

Friday night, scouts got their first nationally televised opportunity to see Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin, who also led his team to a victory.

Devlin wasn't flashy, but the 6-3, 220 pound Penn State transfer shook off a slow start to complete 27 of 38 passes for 261 yards and the Blue Hens' two touchdowns in their 16-3 victory over New Hampshire. Scouts like Devlin's mobility, short to intermediate accuracy and poise in the pocket. Delaware's spread offense is quarterback-friendly and rarely asks Devlin to make deep throws, but he showed better zip than he's often been given credit for. He, too, could wind up with an invitation to the Senior Bowl.

The most impressive player on the field in Eastern Washington's thrilling overtime victory over North Dakota State was the Eagles' junior running back Taiwan Jones.

Generously listed by Eastern at 6-1, 200 pounds, Jones looks a bit smaller, but scouts won't quibble about his size after this contest. The junior star rushed for a career-high 230 yards demonstrating a degree of explosiveness that simply is rarely seen at the FCS level. Perhaps most impressive is that Jones enjoyed his strong game in snowy conditions, which limited his effectiveness late in this contest. His lean build is similar to that of NFL star Chris Johnson and Oregon's Heisman finalist LaMichael James.

There has been some talk in the scouting community that Jones will consider leaving the Eagles early for the NFL. Considering the weak senior class of running backs, he could surprise as a middle round pick based on his big play ability.

Without an all-star game, however, to test his game against the FBS' bigger, stronger athletes level of competition questions will dog him, likely resulting in low enough grade from the NFL Advisory Committee to send him back to Eastern for another season.
Posted on: December 7, 2010 1:39 pm
 

Villanova's WR Szczur earns Diamond in the Rough

With only one player drafted since the Eagles selected running back Brian Westbrook in the third round of the 2002 draft, Villanova has hardly been a hotbed for NFL talent.

This year, however, the Wildcats certainly have the attention of scouts, as they boast two of the more intriguing small school prospects in the country in left tackle Benjamin Ijalana and wide receiver Matt Szczur .

Ijalana was impressive enough to earn a spot in this week's Draft Slant, which you can check out here.

Szczur, however, was even more impressive, earning this week's Diamond in the Rough.

Szczur (pronounced "See-zer") has been a standout football and baseball player for the Wildcats throughout his entire career. A 2009 consensus All-American and the Colonial Athletic Conference Offensive and Special Teams Player of the Year, Szczur is perhaps the most widely accomplished "small school" prospect in the country. As such, it wasn't a huge surprise when the Senior Bowl made he and Ijalana earned two of their earliest invites to the prestigious all-star game.

As it turns out, there may have been another reason why Szczur earned a spot on the team, however.
 
As mentioned previously, Szczur is also a terrific baseball player. So good, in fact, that he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 draft by the Chicago Cubs. An outfielder with great speed and live bat, he played at three levels in the Cubs organization last summer, batting .347 with a .414 on-base percentage and a .465 slugging percentage in 25 total games.

Szczur has a significant decision to make. Part of his contract with the Cubs is that he has to decide by February 15 whether he's going to pursue baseball or football. By participating in the Senior Bowl (January 29), scouts will be able to provide him with an accurate idea as to his true draft status.

Based on his performance Saturday (9 rushes for 68 yards, 11 receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown) in Villanova's comeback victory over Stephen F. Austin to advance to the FCS quarterfinals, they'll like what they see of the versatile playmaker.

Szczur is a multi-purpose athlete who took snaps at the outside and slot receiver positions, as well as at quarterback in Wildcat formations. This was his first game back on the field healthy after missing seven games this season with a high left ankle sprain.

Quite frankly he appeared to still have the lingering effects in the first half against Stephen F. Austin. While he caught several passes and ran reasonably effectively out of the Wildcat, Szczur’s trademark big play ability just wasn’t there.

It was after half-time, however…

Szczur generated most of his plays operating out of the slot. While he isn't truly explosive out of his stance or breaks, he has very good build-up speed at a rock solid 5-11, 200 pounds has the bulk and toughness to handle maintaining this role in the NFL. He has reliable hands and the combination of body control and athleticism to contort in space to make the acrobatic catch.

Scouts had an opportunity to see his acceleration and vision on a Wildcat run in the 3rd quarter for 37 yards. He read his blocks and burst down the near sideline, avoiding several defenders and out-running before being forced out of bounds.

Later in the quarter Szczur made his most impressive play, though it only went for 11 yards. Lining up in the slot, he caught a wide receiver screen on the far sideline, broke free of a tackle in which the defender had one arm wrapped completely around him, recognized the Lumberjacks crashing his way, so he reversed his field ran all the way back towards the near sideline, picked up a few blocks (including one from QB Chris Whitney) and scampered for the first down.

Szczur's touchdown reception came in the 4th quarter with the Wildcats already comfortably ahead. He lined up in slot against zone coverage and showed off his savviness as a route-runner, fooling the safety with a slow release before accelerating past him to collect a perfectly thrown pass from Whitney for 51-yard score.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com