Connor’s Corner

Gannon University graduate football player has a chance to become the first Knight ever to compete at the highest level in his sport – the National Football League.

Randy Colling, a Gannon football alumnus, was signed to a futures contract by the Buffalo Bills organization. The contract begins on March 11, which marks the start of the free agency period for the 2014 season.

Colling hails from Arcade, N.Y., which is about a half hour away from Ralph Wilson Stadium, the home of the Bills. He grew up watching the Bills and as every good Buffalo boy, he bleeds blue and red.

“It’s awesome – if I could pick any team in the NFL to play for, it would be the Bills,” he said.

Colling said he had dreamed of this opportunity since he was a child, and had high praise for Gannon’s coaching staff, which helped him along his journey.

“I owe a lot to them,” Colling said. “They were always pushing me to be better and keeping me on the right track.”

Colling highlighted Shaun Curtiss, the strength and conditioning coach, and said he instilled in him a strong work ethic, which allowed him to reach his full potential physically.

He is not guaranteed a spot on the finalized Buffalo squad. Colling was signed to the offseason 90-man roster with a chance to make the team after training camp.

Colling wrapped up his collegiate football career at Gannon in 2012, when he was one of four lineman chosen by D2Football.com as an All-America first-team member. He continued playing football for the Cleveland Gladiators in the Arena Football League.

Colling played in 16 of 18 games for Cleveland last season, leading the team in sacks with four and tackles for loss with five. He also had a team-best three forced fumbles.

Kevin Gerlach, a senior criminal justice major, played high school football against Colling and became his teammate at Gannon. Gerlach said it was a relief to have Colling in maroon and gold, instead of watching him hurdle over everyone while playing for Pioneer High School.

“He was above everyone else,” Gerlach said. “He ran like a deer; he was a lot lighter in high school.”

Gerlach also said that Colling’s development didn’t stop after his high school playing days. He said he would drill against Colling in practice, where he continued to be a force to be reckoned with.

Gerlach is from Williamsville, N.Y., and said he understands Buffalo’s desire to watch for a home-town kid, and added that everyone in Buffalo would love to see Colling make it under the bright lights of the Ralph.

Colling said he has been preparing himself to most likely be fighting for a spot on Buffalo’s offensive line, a position he said he had not played since high school.

“I’ve been working out a ton, focusing on leg strength and studying the offensive line position,” Colling said.

The Gannon defensive standout said he wants to leave behind the legacy of being the first Gannon football player to play on Sundays, and added he hoped the same would happen for his fellow Knights.

“I hope to be the first of many Gannon football players to make it to the NFL,” Colling said.

 

CONNOR SONDEL

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