Going through motions

Despite NFL uncertainty, hopefuls strut their stuff

Former BC offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, projected as a first-round pick, performs a drill at the school’s Pro Day. Former BC offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, projected as a first-round pick, performs a drill at the school’s Pro Day. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / March 24, 2011

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This year may be the toughest to be an NFL rookie. The uncertainty of the 2011 season resonates in the lockout and negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.

In the meantime, the potential newcomers prepare. Yesterday, 39 college players showed up at Boston College’s Pro Day to work out for 20 NFL scouts, assistant coaches, and other personnel.

Former Harvard wide receiver Marco Iannuzzi was among those showcasing their speed and agility. The status of the NFL season weighs on Iannuzzi, who is thinking of ways to support his wife and 3-year-old daughter. Iannuzzi majored in architecture and environmental science at Harvard and is working with a couple of “start-ups’’ to pay the bills.

“Regardless of what happens in the NFL, I still have to support my family and put food on the table,’’ Iannuzzi said. “That’s my No. 1 concern, for the most part. Being a football player is in my blood. That’s where I’m going to be five months every year.’’

Iannuzzi said he is prepared to stick with business ventures as long as possible while he waits for the NFL. But that isn’t his only option. Last week, the native of Calgary, Alberta, participated in the CFL combine and received positive feedback. When he has all the information in front of him, he said he will be better prepared to make a decision about his future.

“Really, it’s out of our hands,’’ Iannuzzi said. “The current players and the GMs in the league are all dealing with that. For us, it doesn’t really change much. We still have to work our butts off and continue with our training program.’’

A lack of a CBA by the end of April would mean there will be no paychecks and the newcomers may miss out on rookie camp, their chance to get acclimated to the league and their new teams. Workouts can be simulated away from a team, but some things can’t replace learning within an organization, said former BC linebacker Mark Herzlich.

“The playbook is the biggest thing,’’ Herzlich said. “It’s different. It’s a lot bigger and it’s more in-depth. That’s what rookie camp is about, learning the playbook, how coaches coach. That will be tough if there isn’t [a rookie camp].’’

But Herzlich said he isn’t worried about things he can’t control. The linebacker is a year removed from treatments for bone cancer, and said he is now 100 percent. He hopes each workout encourages at least one team to take a chance on him. Herzlich has been working out during the offseason with offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, who also played at BC.

Castonzo, who is 6 feet 7 inches and 313 pounds, is projected as a first-round selection and said he can’t imagine a year without football.

“Nobody really knows what’s going to happen,’’ Castonzo said. “That’s for the Players Association and the owners to decide. There’s going to be a draft and I can’t see there not being a season, so I’m pretty confident everything is going to work out well.’’

The players yesterday said they are making the most of their opportunities to impress NFL teams, and using the chances to pick up tips from NFL coaches. Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia barked orders at a group of offensive linemen being challenged in various drills.

“He was coaching us up,’’ Castonzo said. “It was like a practice. It wasn’t like he was running us through drills, it was like he was actually coaching us. It was nice. I learned some stuff.’’

If the season is delayed, Castonzo said it would just mean more time to prepare. Offensive lineman Thomas Claiborne, who also played at BC, agreed.

“Everything happens for a reason,’’ Claiborne said. “It could be for the better, it could be for the worst. All I can do is take it day by day and run with it. When I get my opportunity, I’ll just keep pushing forward.’’

Monique Walker can be reached at