Three UNC Football Players Looking to Play Professionally

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Photo provided via UNC Athletics

The University of Northern Colorado football team had a rough last two seasons in the wins column, but that has not deterred them from breaking UNC records and producing talent. Last year, UNC had two players in the NFL, Kyle Sloter as a backup QB in Minnesota and Frank Stephens as a practice squad receiver in San Francisco. Jacob Bobenmoyer, Zach Wilkinson and Alex Wesley look to join the former Bears. This season Alex Wesley became just the second UNC Bear to record two 1,000 yard seasons since Vincent Jackson who went on to be drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft. While Wesley may not be recorded that high on mock draft boards he did attend the Senior Bowl and  is participating in the NFL combine this weekend. 

A unique advantage to Wesley is he is not only a football player, but also ran the 400m for the Bears. Wesley was a Big Sky Champion in the 400m sprint three times in his career and last year went to nationals. Wesley placed as the 14th best collegiate runner at the 400m event.

This season Wesley had the 19th most receiving yards in the FCS. His career total yards of 2,716 yards and 14 total touchdowns should have scouts attention. Then looking at his highlights Wesley has the spectacular catch trait. In the practices for the Senior Bowl Wesley showed great route running and athleticism despite a lingering groin injury. Wesley is the best chance for a Bear to make it into the NFL via the NFL Draft, but he will not be alone.

Jacob Bobenmoyer played long snapper for the Bears this season and received a unique honor. Being a long snapper is one of the least thanked and most under appreciated positions in football. Despite that challenge, Bobenmoyer was noticed  as one of the top long snappers in college football with an invite to the NFL Players Association Bowl game to showcase his talents and network with scouts.

Looking at various scouting reports Bobenmoyer is listed as anywhere from top five long snapper to second best long snapper in the nation. That may not translate into a draft pick, but free agent signings directly after the draft is not out of the question. Bobenmoyer played well in the NFLPA Bowl where there were scouts from numerous teams present. The NFL Draft is April 25-27 with free agency opening following the conclusion of the draft. 

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The third Bear looking  to go play professionally is offensive lineman Zach Wilkinson. He has a unique situation where he did not hear from the NFL, but instead received an invite to the Canadian Football League combine. Wilkinson will compete in the National CFL Combine on March 22-24. The CFL Draft will take place on May 2.

The reason Zach was invited to the CFL combine is although he is an American football player he also has Canadian citizenship as he is from Vancouver, B.C., Canada. American players can play in the CFL, but only those with Canadian citizenship can be drafted. There is also a quota of how many Canadian players must be on each roster to keep the league true to its roots. 

Wilkinson has the advantage of playing at a Dvision I American school that allows more opportunity and chance for press than other options. In the August, CFL rankings  had Wilkinson listed as the eighth best prospect for the CFL Draft. In the December CFL rankings, Wilkinson stayed in the top 20 coming in at 17. While teams draft according to need, if the draft happened according to the prospect rankings Wilkinson would still be drafted in the second round since there are nine teams in the CFL and eight rounds in the draft. 

The Mirror had a chance to ask all three about their time at UNC in individual interviews. The following is a written description of the interviews abbreviated for clarity.

Jacob Bobenmoyer

Jacob Bobenmoyer. Photo via UNC Athletics.

Q: How did you decide to come to UNC?

A: I chose UNC since it was close to home for me. They also value academics since I knew I was coming to college for more than just football. Coach Collins really made it feel like home and I respected that a lot. 

Q: What was your favorite moments at UNC?

A; Beating #25 Montana was one of our biggest on the field victories that we were proud of. I also really enjoyed all of the community service events that us players helped out with. 

Q: How are you preparing for the NFL potentially?

A; Right now I have an agent and am working out to increase my speed and accuracy, but I am also finishing up my degree in nursing in case the football route does not happen right away. 

Zach Wilkinson

Zach Wilkinson. Photo via UNC Athletics.

Q: How did you decide to come to UNC?

A: I chose UNC since I believed the coaching staff could help me develop into the player I wanted to be. I actually chose UNC over going to University of North Dakota.

Q: What was your favorite moments at UNC?

A; Beating #25 Montana was huge for all of us. I also loved reading to kids at local elementary schools and coaching youth kids. 

Q: How are you preparing for the CFL? 

A; I am strength training with some help from coaches. At UNC I am finishing up a double major in philosophy and communications with a minor in business.

Alex Wesley

Alex Wesley. Photo via UNC Athletics.

Q: How did you decide to come to UNC?

A: I was not highly recruited in football, most of the offers were for track. I did not want to have to choose and the coaches at UNC made it possible for me to do both. 

Q: What was your favorite moments at UNC?

A; It was great to be a part of UNC’s first two winning seasons at Division I. I also cherish the two 1,000 yard seasons I had with the second one actually happening on my birthday. 

Q: How are you preparing for the NFL? 

A; Right now I am in Phoenix training on strength and routes in preparation for the NFL Combine.

Dates to watch for these Bears going onto the professional level.

NFL Combine March 2nd: Wesley

UNC Pro Day: March 8th: All

CFL Combine March 22-24th: Wilkinson

NFL Draft April 25-27th: Wesley and Bobenmoyer

CFL Draft May 2nd: Wilkinson

Being a Bear: Always

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