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Plenty of New England Ties at NFL Scouting Combine

A collection of prospects with ties to New England capped off the final day of the NFL Scouting Combine's interview sessions.

Pictured from left to right: Boston College offensive lineman Christian Mahogany (73) and Michigan offensive lineman Zak Zinter (65).
Pictured from left to right: Boston College offensive lineman Christian Mahogany (73) and Michigan offensive lineman Zak Zinter (65).

Indianapolis - The interview portion of the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine wrapped up on Saturday with a distinctly New England flair, as local offensive linemen who both played college in the area or grew up locally took to the podiums.

But the O-line wasn't the only position to see a healthy pipeline from the fields of New England to the Scouting Combine in Indy.

Holy Cross, Boston College and UConn each sent two prospects to Indy, while North Andover's Zak Zinter and Everett's Mike Sainristil, who spent their college years at Michigan and capped off their careers with a national championship, are among the combine's most intriguing prospects.

Holy Cross wide receiver Jalen Coker and offensive lineman C.J. Hanson represent the third and fourth players in school history to receive a Combine invite and the first to attend since the 1980's. Both have already had busy springs playing in the Shrine Bowl and improving their stock with impressive performances.

CJ Hanson of Holy Cross.
CJ Hanson of Holy Cross.

"It's a huge opportunity," said Coker, a big receiver specializing in contested catches. "I talk to CJ about it all the time. We're so excited to be here. We're so honored to be here, you know, just coming from Holy Cross, you know, small school guys, we just kind of have a chip on our shoulder and really proud to represent it."

"I mean, it's a blessing to be here coming from Holy Cross," said Hanson. "There's such a great pride behind the football program there; the alumni, the coaching staff, I mean, I couldn't have played football in a better place. I truly fit in perfectly. The team, everything about. It was just perfect for me. Coach Chesney is one heck of a coach. The players he brought in around us was incredible."

After successful careers in Worcester that included five straight Patriot League titles, the two Crusaders got the news about their invite to Indy at almost the same time this spring.

"We were actually at the Shrine Bowl together in the same room and then he got the email and then I got the email a little bit later, so it was a crazy experience," said Coker.

"It was incredible," said Hanson describing the moment the Combine emails rolled in. "I was sitting down and he was walking in and I was like, 'I got in,' and then he threw his hands up and then he got the email. I immediately jumped up and hugged him. It was an incredible moment for both of us because we're the first people since Gordie Lockbaum in 1988, which, putting your name with someone like that, Gordie Lockbaum, is incredible. Up for the Heisman Trophy, you can't do that anymore at Holy Cross. So, it's an incredible, incredible honor."

Boston College offensive lineman Christian Mahogany (73).
Boston College offensive lineman Christian Mahogany (73).

Boston College renewed their historic rivalry with the Crusaders this year and sent two of their own players to the Combine, guard Christian Mahogany and cornerback Elijah Jones. Mahogany, who said he met informally with the Patriots at the Shrine Bowl, would welcome the chance to remain in the area for his pro career.

"It's something I've been in that area for five years now, so, playing for the Patriots would be an experience for sure," said Mahogany. "I've been there. I know who they are. I mean, obviously they've got a new coaching staff so I don't know if they've watched me my whole career, but yeah, it would be nice to stay where you've been at."

Boston College has a long and storied history of placing offensive linemen in the NFL, including former Patriots Super Bowl champions Dan Koppen and Damien Woody.

"Boston College, because of that lineage, those people, for me and hopefully those people after me, that's why I went to BC," said Mahogany. "It's great to be here and great to show my skills at the next level. And I'm just excited to put on for this."

Michigan offensive lineman Zak Zinter (65).
Michigan offensive lineman Zak Zinter (65).

Zak Zinter, who went to BB&N, broke his leg against Ohio State and missed out on playing through the Wolverine's championship run, said his rehab was going well and that he'd be more than open to a potential return to the familiar fields of Foxboro. "I've been, been to Foxboro, been to Gillette, my parents live there right now, so, I mean, it'd be pretty cool," said Zinter.

UConn's twosome includes an offensive and defensive line pairing that got into plenty of scraps during their time in Storrs, but that intensity helped Christian Haynes and Eric Watts get to this point, on the verge of hearing their names called during the NFL Draft.

"Me and him probably got kicked out of practice a lot because we're both like alpha males, so we want to be dominant," said Watts. "We both get after each other. Sometimes emotion got a little higher for both of us. Anything that happens between us on the field never carried over, it ended right there, we left off, we shake hands, we hug. It's just us competing and we're both competitors and we both definitely have what it takes to perform at the next level."

"Me and Eric, we've been going at it since he came in," said Haynes with smile. "We were roommates at the time too. So it was just like we always knew we had to compete against each other better. We might butt heads at practice sometimes but at the end of the day, we were always brothers."

Combine workouts will continue through Sunday, as the final position groups take to the field inside Lucas Oil Stadium to workout and put a final exclamation point on their week in Indianapolis.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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