ORONO, Maine — Saturday may be an exciting day for some outgoing seniors on the UMaine football team.
Defensive backs Jerron McMillian and Trevor Coston are the leading candidates to hook on with a National Football League team — whether during the draft, which ends Saturday, or as free agents.
As recently as a week ago, Tony Pauline of SI.com (Sports Illustrated) listed Coston as one of 14 “Small-school sleeper prospects.”
“Coston is a terrific cover safety who easily goes sideline to sideline in centerfield,” Pauline wrote. “He also doubles as a return specialist, which only adds to his value.”
He mentioned San Francisco, Baltimore and New England as being teams that have shown a lot of interest in the 5-foot-10, 203-pounder.
McMillian had a strong showing at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, where he topped all defensive backs with a vertical leap of 36 1/2 inches. He then leapt 39 inches during UMaine’s “pro day.”
The Bleacher Report for the New York Giants recently placed McMillian (5-11, 203) on a list of “NFL Draft 2nd-Day Sleepers.”
Craig Santucci’s column noted, “the Giants love a physical, run-stopping safety that can play special teams, which is McMillian’s strength.
“At a minimum, McMillian can compete,” Santucci added. “Big hitters and sure tacklers always find a home on special teams. He is a great tackler and brings it 100 percent on every play.”
UMaine Cole Scrimmage set
The UMaine football team will close out its spring season Saturday with the playing of the 8th annual Jeff Cole Scrimmage.
The event is scheduled for a 10 a.m. kickoff on Morse Field at Alfond Stadium.
The scrimmage provides coach Jack Cosgrove and his staff with a final opportunity to evaluate their players in game situations heading into the summer break.
Not only will the veterans show off their experience, the scrimmage provides up-and-comers and untested players with a chance to demonstrate their readiness to contribute during the 2012 season.
“It’s a continued part of our evaluation,” Cosgrove said. “For the older players, it’s that compete level, it’s that consistency of performance that you want to see. For our younger players, a lot of it’s as basic as technique, assignment, recognition of situations … a comprehensive understanding of everything that’s going on and putting it all together at a fast pace.”
Even though several players are out because of injuries or rehabilitation after surgery, UMaine is trying to shore up some key areas affected by the loss of seniors. Among the positions under the microscope is quarterback, where redshirt sophomores Marcus Wasilewski and John Ebeling have been the front-runners.
One of them is expected to replace departing senior Warren Smith, who held down the starting spot most of the previous three seasons. His backup, Chris Treister of Cape Elizabeth, also has completed his eligibility.
The Bears also must shore up their defensive line, secondary and running back positions, which have been thinned by graduation.
“You make progress, you improve, you develop depth,” Cosgrove said of the spring workouts. “You begin to develop trust in guys that go on the field and take the reps when the No. 1 guy goes down.
UMaine’s scrimmage is dedicated to the memory of former Black Bears assistant coach Jeff Cole, who died of cancer in 2004.
Conner shines at Penn Relays
UMaine’s Corey Conner continued her string of outstanding performances competing Thursday at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia.
Running in the college division, the senior ran away from the field to win the 5,000 meters, eclipsing her recently established school record in the event with a time of 16 minutes, 1.37 seconds.
Conner, who won the race by more than 15 seconds, now ranks among the top 10 in the East Region and in the top 20 nationally this spring in the 5,000.
UMaine swimmers honored
Spencer Warmuth and Ryan Fahey of the UMaine men’s swimming and diving team have been inducted into the university’s Sophomore Owls Honor Society.
Fahey, a biology/pre-med major from Quincy, Mass., and Warmuth, an economics major from Brewer, joined the group this week.
Fahey competes in the individual medley, freestyle and backstroke events while Warmuth is a diver.
The Sophomore Owls, a men’s organization, was founded in 1909. It is made up of the top one percent of students in the class. Selection to the society is based on a variety of strong skills including leadership, community involvement, character, academics and commitment to UMaine.