By Joe Scalzo
For the first time since 2004, the Mahoning Valley was shut out of the NFL draft. But at least three area NFL hopefuls kept their pro football dreams alive.
Cardinal Mooney High graduate Kyle McCarthy, a safety at Notre Dame, agreed to a free agent contract with the Denver Broncos, while YSU wide receiver Donald Jones accepted an offer with the Buffalo Bills on Saturday afternoon.
Former Ursuline QB Daryll Clark (Penn State) had not made a decision at press time but his agent had several offers, his father Daryll Sr. said late Saturday night.
McCarthy’s agent was in communication with several teams as Saturday’s seventh round wound down. McCarthy said the Broncos seemed like the best fit.
“It was an intense process,” McCarthy said by phone late Saturday. “I was a little frustrated with not getting drafted but I’m used to digging myself out a hole and climbing back up.
“I’ve had to work for everything I’ve got and hopefully I can make an impact for Denver’s team.”
McCarthy, who led the Irish in tackles the past two seasons, said he agreed to a three-year deal.
Despite not getting selected, he said he’s confident he can make the team.
“I’m excited about the opportunity and I’m going to make the most of it,” said McCarthy, a former All-Ohio quarterback who led Mooney to a Division IV state championship in 2004. “I’m just thankful for everything I’ve been given.”
At least one Steelers-related website reported that Clark would sign with Pittsburgh but that report was premature, Daryll Sr. said.
“That was news to him,” he said. “Quite a few teams are interested and it’s a matter of finding the right situation.”
Daryll Sr. said the Redskins, Packers, Rams and Vikings had all expressed interest in his son, who set single-season passing records for yards and TDs at Penn State.
Jones, a first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection, had an impressive senior year for the Penguins, setting the school record for single-season grabs with 77. He also had a team-best 790 yards and caught six touchdown passes. He twice tied the school record with 11 receptions in a contest (Missouri State and Southern Illinois).
Jones, a native of Plainfield, N.J., played his junior college ball at Lackawanna College, which is just outside Buffalo. He did not return calls seeking comment.
It is the first time since 2007 that a Penguin has signed a free-agent NFL deal. Marcus Mason, who played for the Redskins last year, signed with Washington in April 2007.
Mason saw his first NFL action last fall. Two other undrafted free agents with area ties, Chaney High graduate Keilen Dykes (DT, Cardinals) and Fitch High graduate Dan Gerberry (OL, Lions) also made their NFL debuts last fall.