[Vandal] Vandal Linebackers Listed Among Possible NFL Picks

robiegruss at aol.com robiegruss at aol.com
Tue Jun 16 08:02:46 PDT 2020

>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoTuesday, June 16, 2020
Vandal Linebackers Listed Among Possible NFL Picks
Elliss, Akanno mentioned as 2021 draft prospects
By Colton Clark
Idaho linebackers Christian Elliss and Charles Akanno cracked Draft Scout’s recent list of the nation’s best small-school college football prospects.
Elliss, a first-team All-Big Sky pick last year on the strong side, was tabbed No. 46 out of 100 players with pro potential from the lower levels of collegiate football — the Football Championship Subdivision, Division II and III, and NAIA. The frequently updated list was released Saturday.
The 6-foot-3, 233-pounder is predicted to land somewhere in the NFL as a free agent. The site clocks his 40-yard-dash time at somewhere between 4.66 and 4.84.
Last month, Elliss also was profiled by NFL Draft Diamonds as an under-the-radar 2021 NFL draft prospect.
“Christian Elliss is one of the best players in the FCS,” NFL Draft Diamonds’ Damond Talbot wrote. “He has a knack for stopping the ball carrier in the backfield. He has great length and speed. … Elliss will need another huge year in 2020, and hopefully he can finish the year with at least 5 more sacks.”
Elliss, a consistent force on Idaho’s defense for three years, had 104 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last year, playing primarily as a stand-up outside linebacker, but also getting a share of reps rushing the edge.
Akanno, the Vandals’ primary edge-rusher at buck linebacker, came in at 97th after initially not appearing on the list, which is compiled by Josh Buchanan, a small-college-football expert with vast connections to NFL scouts, who provide input.
Akanno played in eight games, missing Idaho’s final four because of an Achilles injury. He had 13.5 TFLs and 3.5 sacks, and for a stretch — even for two weeks after his injury — was leading the FCS in solo TFLs. Akanno, quick and crafty, batted down eight passes at the line.
Other Big Sky Conference players on the list include: No. 12, Montana LB Jace Lewis; No. 16, Montana WR Samori Toure; No. 37, Montana WR Samuel Akem; No. 39, Weber State G Ty Whitworth; No. 41, Portland State WR Emmanuel Daigbe; No. 55, Sacramento State CB Daron Bland; No. 70, Northern Arizona K Luis Aguilar; No. 71, Montana State OT Lewis Kidd; No. 76, Montana State OLB Amandre Williams; No. 88, Idaho State WR Tanner Conner; No. 89, Weber State DT Jared Schiess.
The top overall pick was North Dakota State tackle Dillon Radunz.
Idaho increases access — Coinciding with the fourth stage of the state’s reopening plan, the University of Idaho allowed student-athletes to recommence some activities Monday, permitting access for the first time in three months to certain amenities.
A school spokesman said some athletes have returned, but mostly those who require or were seeking work in the training room — those being predominantly football players, who would be competing in summer drills at around this time during any typical year.
The track and field facility is open as well, but it has not yet been announced if restrictions on groups have been lifted there.
“For us, we’re easing into it,” Idaho spokesman Joe St. Pierre said. “As we’ve talked about for the last few months, the health and safety of our student-athletes have been at the forefront in the discussion over COVID-19. Now, health and safety remain at the forefront with our athletic training staff and student-athletes beginning to have the opportunity to meet more regularly.
“... We’re thankful for (director of athletic training) Chris Walsh and his staff for adapting and finding a way to reopen the doors to help our student-athletes that were able to make it back at this time, and we’re looking forward to continuing to take steps toward the 2020 season.”
An official date on when student-athletes may resume voluntary workouts has not been set. Idaho teams have been keeping in contact via online teleconference meetings, but fall clubs have yet to see any organized activities on-field.
“While much of the learning has translated to Zoom, the need to physically prepare for the season, especially after missing all of spring ball, is incredibly important,” St. Pierre said.
Idaho is tentatively scheduled to fully reopen voluntary workouts starting either June 29 or July 6, at the end of the “optional return phase” — barring any delay to Phase 4 of the state government’s plan to reopen.
During this current reopening phase, face coverings are “required in university buildings and when social distancing cannot be maintained outdoors,” according to Idaho’s website. University workers in general were allowed to return to regular on-site locations starting Monday, too.
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