Late last week, Ben DiNucci was driving back from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, with a couple of things he had left at his college place as he was preparing for the NFL draft.
The seventh-round pick had been part of the Dallas Cowboys for less than a week, and he was on his way back to his family’s home in Wexford, Pennsylvania. Instead of flying to Dallas for a rookie minicamp this week, he was back in his old bedroom, surrounded by trophies and posters reminding him of his dream of playing in the NFL.
“The bedroom’s still the same,” DiNucci said. “Might be a little more dust on [the trophies].”new nike nfl jerseys cheap
Like the rest of the rookie class, DiNucci doesn’t know when he will make it to The Star, as NFL facilities are closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. He has an iPad and playbook and, by the end of the week, will be taking part in virtual meetings with his new teammates.
Without the chance to be on the field in the offseason, DiNucci’s chances to impress the coaches will be more difficult, but that’s life every year for a late-round pick.
DiNucci is used to seizing opportunities.
Go back to January, when he was at The Star as James Madison’s quarterback, preparing for the FCS national title game against North Dakota State. The Dukes were staying at the Omni Hotel connected to the Cowboys’ practice facility, and DiNucci stepped on the elevator to get to a meeting.
A number of teammates were in the elevator — and so was Mike McCarthy, who only a few days earlier had been named Cowboys coach.
“He was standing in the back and I recognized him immediately, so I went to the back, stood by him and introduced myself,” DiNucci said. “Just elevator talk: ‘Hey, Coach, your brother Joe was my eighth-grade basketball coach.’ He was familiar with the Pine-Richland area, being from Pittsburgh. He said good luck, and I wished him the best of luck in Dallas.
“When I got off the elevator, I asked my teammates, ‘Any of you guys know who that was?’ And they were like, ‘No.’ ‘Come on, that’s coach McCarthy.’ It was pretty funny. They were like, ‘Are you kidding me?’“buy nike nfl jerseys cheap
From that chance meeting, DiNucci made an impression and McCarthy kept finding connections.
DiNucci grew up outside Pittsburgh, like McCarthy. He was coached by McCarthy’s brother. He started his college career at Pittsburgh, where McCarthy coached. His coach at James Madison, Curt Cignetti, is the brother of a former McCarthy assistant, Frank Cignetti Jr., who is now the offensive coordinator at Boston College.