UAlbany football continues without Karl Mofor, who is chasing the NFL dream

ALBANY — The University of Albany football team started prom Friday without running back Karl Mofor.

Except he was there. Just standing on the sidelines in a black hoodie as a former Great Dane.

“UAlbany’s first practice without me since 2017,” said Mofor, a guest at Casey Stadium after rushing for 3,863 yards and 35 touchdowns during his college career that ended last fall.

“I feel naked here right now without Karl,” UAlbany coach Greg Gattuso said with a laugh. “He’s like a giant big woobie (a slang term for a safety blanket). You can always turn around and give Karl the ball and trust him and he’s a good leader. So yeah, he’ll we miss it. But I think sometimes when a big shadow comes up, those other leaders start to step up and that’s what college sports is for. You’re going to lose some big ones. It’s time for other people intervene.

While the Great Danes are looking for these players coming off a 2-9 season in 2021, Mofor is moving on with life and pursuing a career as a professional footballer. He hit a big milestone earlier Friday, one of several prospects taking part in UAlbany’s pro day ahead of NFL scouts at Afrim’s Sports Park in Colonie.

Representatives from the New York Giants, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers were there to watch eight players, including seven from UAlbany: Mofor, defensive tackle Ibn Foster, receiver Donovan McDonald, tight end LJ Wesneski , offensive lineman Critt Johnson, long snapper Tristan Sokach-Minnick and kicker Dylvan Burns. The other player was RPI receiver Vinnie McDonald.

The Albany Empire of the National Arena League also had coaches there.

UAlbany associate head coach and offensive line coach Nate Byham hosted the pro day with strength coach Matt Barber. They haven’t been able to have one for the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s huge,” said Byham, who played four seasons as an NFL tight end. “The thing is they get their film, but now with the way the information is shared between NFL teams and the CFL…to have it handled by an NFL program with the New Giants. York, bringing in three scouts to document all those numbers, it’s huge for these guys because now they’ve documented real numbers.”

Mofor, who is 5-foot-8 and 227 pounds, was tested Friday at 4.66 seconds on the 40-yard dash, 4.41 on the shuddle and 7.34 on the three-cone drill, as well as 21 reps in the bench press and a vertical jump of 32 inches.

“I’m happy with it,” Mofor said. “I was just hoping to show them my athleticism off the pitch, show them that I can move, run, catch the ball, which I felt like I did well.”

He trained at the TEST Football Academy in New Jersey under former UAlbany offensive lineman Geir Gudmundsen to prepare for practice.

Donovan McDonald, 26, returned for the pro day he didn’t have after the 2019 season due to COVID-19. He lives with his parents in New Jersey while he pursues his football dream. He trained for five weeks at the TEST Football Academy. He is also a private school coach.

“I was lucky to have parents who supported me, who allowed me to continue training,” he said. “I feel like that’s what I love doing and I know I have the ability to do it.”

UAlbany has put undrafted players into the NFL, most recently New York Giants cornerback Jarren Williams. Maybe one of Friday’s hopefuls could be next.

“A lot of scouts asked a lot of questions about Karl,” Byham said. “Obviously multiple All-American titles to his name help and a lot of rushing yards…Everyone has an opportunity, and that’s why these things are so important…Put those practice numbers in place, they can really be eye-catching for scouts.”

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