From JCU to NFL: A well-traveled route

With Josh McDaniels in St. Louis, two of the four offensive coordinators in the NFC West are graduates of Division III John Carroll University. -- AP

Niners offensive coordinator Greg Roman isn’t the only former John Carroll University football player to make a name for himself in the NFL.

The Division III Blue Streaks, after all, play their games in Don Shula Stadium, named after the NFL’s all-time winningest coach and a member of the class of 1951.

But the school of 4,000 in suburban Cleveland has sent plenty of more recent alums into the NFL.

Here’s the list:

Chris Polian (class of ‘93): Colts general manager
Greg Roman (‘94): 49ers offensive coordinator
Tom Telesco (‘95): Colts director of player personnel
David Caldwell (’96): Falcons director of college scouting
London Fletcher (’97):
Redskins linebacker
Nick Caserio (’98):
Patriots director of player personnel
Josh McDaniels (‘99): Rams offensive coordinator

• Not on the list is Stanford special teams coordinator Brian Polian (class of ’97), a linebacker who was mentored by Roman, a nose guard, in college. Polian also coached with Roman last year at Stanford.

“All these (John Carroll) guys came out of this school at the same time and they are all wired the same way,” Polian said. “They are very passionate about what they do, they have an unbelievable work ethic and they care about people. Those are traits that any good coach has and you could see it in Greg.”

• It should be noted that the Polian connection has at least something to do with the inordinate amount of NFLers produced by John Carroll.

Chris Polian is the son of Colts president Bill Polian and Caldwell and Telesco began their careers as Panthers scouts in the mid-90s when Bill Polian was the general manager in Carolina. Roman began his career in Carolina in 1995, but his connection was Chip Morton, the Panthers’ strength and conditioning coach. Morton is now the Bengals’ strength and conditioning coach.

• Fletcher, as you might imagine, was quite a force at John Carroll where he owns the school record for tackles in a game (29) and a season (202). He was the Division III Linebacker of the Year as a senior and nominated for the Gagliardi Trophy, the Heisman Trophy of Division III.

• Chris Polian on Roman, a 5-foot-8, 255-pound nose guard who was his teammate for two years: “Whatever Greg’s doing, and whatever he’s into, he’s all in. And he’s going to get after it with all that he’s got.”

• I asked Chris Polian what position he played at John Carroll. His answer: Scout-team wide receiver.

“We were all short and undersized and slow,” he said. “I think that’s a common theme throughout Division III football.”

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