Herd of Buffs get their NFL chance

Ryan Koenigsberg Avatar
May 5, 2015

 

For the first time since 2005 and only the fifth time in the last 50 years, no Colorado Buffaloes heard their name called during the NFL draft, but that doesn’t mean none will get their shot.

Late Saturday night news broke that Greg Henderson was signing with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent, and all Monday morning news was breaking about Buffs getting their chance in mini-camps across the country.

O’Neill to Detroit

The first mini-camp invite we caught wind of this morning was Darragh O’Neill.

“Obviously I’m just really glad that somebody was willing to give me a chance,” said Darragh O’Neill. “That’s all you can really ask for as a kicker or punter, there are not too many opportunities out there, so I’m just really happy that I’m going somewhere that I can show people how much I’ve improved.”

If you can remember back four years, it was Jon Embree who simply gave Darragh a chance by inviting him to walk-on to the team. The rest was history, O’Neill earned the starting job, later a scholarship, and eventually the four-year starter would become the Buffaloes all-time leader in punts (281), punting yards (12,001), punts inside-the-20 (95) and punts inside-the-10 (34).

“Just being a competitor is kind of how I’ve always been, no matter what it is, going into it, I’m always going to be confident in my abilities,” he said. “Obviously CU worked out well, and hopefully the next step will work out well.”

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Detroit’s a long way from Boulder, and a much longer way from Darragh’s birthplace of Cork, Ireland, but the Motor City holds a special place in his heart.

“It’s a bit of a flashback, that’s where my family first came when we came to the United States,” he said with a reminiscent smile. “My dad was going to the University of Michigan to pursue an MBA. A Detroit Lions hat was actually the first piece of American sports merchandise I ever owned.”

“It’s pretty crazy going back to where it all began,” he added. “But like I said, it’s just rookie mini-camp this weekend, hopefully it turns into a contract, but we’ll see, we’ll take it one step at a time.”

O’Neill said he was checking his phone religiously today, to see where his fellow Colorado seniors would land.

“You’re always pulling for the guys that you’re coming out with to get picked up somewhere,” he explained. “It seems like all of us that had kind of a legitimate shot at it got sorted out. It’s great to see the fellow Buffs getting their chance at it.”

And despite two of his teammates getting to reunite with the coach who gave them all their first chance, he’s not quite jealous.

“I love Jon Embree, he basically made my career, I wouldn’t have done anything without him,” O’Neill told. “That being said I’m actually happy that I’m going somewhere else to kind of get thrown into it and try and figure it out myself.”

O’Neill will head to Detroit on Thursday.

McCulloch and Oliver to Tampa

As mentioned above, kicker, Will Oliver, and wide receiver, Tyler “Gucci Ty” McCulloch are headed to Tampa Bay for their tryout with the Buccaneers where they will be, at least momentarily, reunited with former Colorado head coach, and current Tampa Bay tight ends coach, Jon Embree.

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“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to continue playing the game that I love,” said McCulloch, who ranks 20th all-time at Colorado in receptions. “Im extremely grateful for Tampa giving me this opportunity.”

The Colorado fan favorite known for his mullet, first down celebrations, and of course great nickname, only had one power 5 offer coming out of the preps.

“To be reunited with Coach Embree again is amazing,” he added. “He’s the one person that gave me a chance coming out of high school, when no one else would.”

UCLA v Colorado

Oliver leaves Colorado as the school’s second all time leading scorer, and the only player in team history to lead the team in scoring for four consecutive seasons.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to head down to Tampa,” Oliver said. “My entire goal throughout this process has been to get a shot, I can’t want to get out on the field and begin this process.”

“It should be great to get back with Embo,” he added. “And it will certainly be a fun experience to head out there with Ty. I can’t wait.”

The two Buffs will head to Tampa on Thursday along with Boulder native Kenny Bell who was selected in the 5th round by the Buccaneers out of Nebraska.

Munyer to Kansas City

In another Buffs reunion, offensive lineman, Daniel Munyer will get his look in Kansas City Chief’s mini-camp this weekend.

KC, of course is where formed Colorado offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy, currently coaches the running backs.

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The 6-foot-2, 295 pound Munyer, started all 12 games for the Buffaloes last season, and earned honorable mention All-Pac 12 honors in the process.

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