ORONO, Maine — The National Football League draft came and went without any former University of Maine players being drafted, but at least three players will get a shot at earning a roster spot.
Safety Trevor Coston, who last played for coach Jack Cosgrove’s team in 2011, has signed a free-agent contract with the Detroit Lions.
A year ago, Coston had signed with the Chicago Bears and spent a considerable amount of time with the team during the preseason before being released.
Former Black Bears Donte Dennis and Darlos James also will have an opportunity to pursue a pro career. Both have received invitations to attend upcoming mini-camps, where they will be further evaluated before receiving a potential contract offer.
Dennis, a hard-hitting linebacker, has been invited to attend the St. Louis Rams’ mini-camp while James, a proven performer at cornerback, is headed for the Lions’ mini-camp.
In 2011, the 5-10, 203-pound Coston earned All-Colonial Athletic Association first-team recognition as a punt returner (9.7-yard average) and was a second-team pick at defensive back. He ranked third on UMaine with 83 tackles and had nine pass break-ups.
Coston tied for the league lead with six interceptions in 2011 on his way to fourth-team All-America accolades.
Dennis was an All-CAA second-team selection in 2012 after returning for a fifth season after elbow surgery in 2011. The 6-foot, 220-pounder from Rahway, N.J., registered 86 tackles to rank fourth in the conference.
Dennis, who was an All-CAA third-team pick in 2009 and 2010, became the first Black Bear since former NFL standout Stephen Cooper to lead the team in tackles in three seasons. Dennis finished his career with 309 tackles.
James was a fixture at corner for UMaine on his way to All-CAA third-team honors. As a senior, he posted 44 tackles with five pass break-ups, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
James, a 5-10, 175-pounder from Mount Vernon, N.Y., appeared in 45 games over five seasons with the Black Bears.
UMaine has a handful of other NFL hopefuls, including offensive linemen Chris Howley and Josh Spearin of Limington.
The CAA had four players taken in the NFL Draft. The group is led by William & Mary cornerback B.W. Webb, who went to Dallas in the fourth round, and James Madison offensive guard Earl Watford, a fourth-round choice of Arizona.
Safety Cooper Taylor of Richmond went to the New York Giants in the fifth round and New Hampshire defensive tackle Jared Smith was taken by Seattle in the seventh round.
Cole Scrimmage set Saturday
The UMaine football team has entered the final week of its brief spring season, which will culminate Saturday with the ninth annual Jeff Cole Scrimmage.
The Bears’ intrasquad game is scheduled for a 10 a.m. start on Morse Field at Alfond Stadium and will be followed by a cookout.
Cosgrove and his staff have been putting the team through its paces during a 15-day spring season during which UMaine is trying to start shoring up positions left vacant by departing seniors.
The scrimmage is named in memory of the former UMaine assistant coach who died of cancer in 2004.
The Bears, who went 5-6 last season (4-4) CAA, return 17 starters including eight on defense.
The UMaine football team also is sponsoring the Jeff Cole Bone Marrow Drive. The effort will be held Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Bangor Room at the Memorial Union.
A swab of the cheek allows potential donors to be placed in a registry that could help cancer patients receive life-saving treatments.