Elmont native Greg Senat reaches NFL

Ravens draft Wagner U. wide receiver

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Surrounded by family, friends and television screens inside a rented Manhattan restaurant, Elmont’s Greg Senat saw his longtime dream of making it to the NFL come true on April 28. Despite getting calls from a number of teams about becoming a free agent that day, Senat waited in the hope of hearing his name called out during the 2018 NFL Draft, and in the sixth round, the Baltimore Ravens picked him.

“When Ozzie Newsome” — the Ravens’ general manager — “called me, it was amazing,” Senat said. “This was real.”

Senat’s journey to the NFL is somewhat unusual, because his college football career began only two years ago. He was originally a basketball player for the Wagner Seahawks, and even though the team won the North-East Conference championship in 2016, Senat felt like he was missing something. He said the Wagner basketball team could succeed by having only a few star players, so it lacked a sense of camaraderie. Then Senat remembered his time playing football at Elmont Memorial High School in

10th grade.

“In football, everyone has to be great,” Senat said. “There’s such a strong comrade mentality, and I wanted that.”

He then embarked on an ambitious journey to become a two-sport athlete. With the OK from Wagner’s head football coach, Jason Houghtaling, Senat began his crash course in college football. He spent day and night studying the team’s plays, reviewing footage of the Seahawks in order to compete at the team’s level. He even put on 30 pounds to play offensive tackle, which he would have to repeat in order to make it into the NFL. And he still played forward for the Wagner basketball team despite weighing 285 pounds at the time, about 40 pounds heavier than the average starting forward, according to a 2014 Business Insider article on the weight and size of professional athletes.

“It was a tremendous commitment,” Houghtaling said. “He’s a grinder type of guy who improves on anything he can.”

As Senat’s potential became more evident, he was presented with unique opportunities to stand out and catch the eyes of NFL scouts. In January, Senat became the first-ever football player from the North-East Conference to play in the Shrine All-Star Game. The East-West Shrine All-Star Game is a prestigious event in the world of football. The very best college players from teams around the country gather to take part in a charity game to benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children.

At the event, Senate trained with the country’s top college players, learning to keep up with their speed and talent. He was the only two-sport athlete there, and he had built enough confidence with the coaches during those training days that he was picked as one of the starting offensive tackles for the West. The team won 14-10.

“It was his reward for all the training he went through, “ Houghtaling said.

Then, in March, came the NFL Scouting Combine, where young players showed off their talents to top executives, coaches and personnel from all 32 NFL teams to be evaluated for the draft. Before the Combine, Senat was listed as having a less than 50 percent chance of making it into the NFL. He knew it was a long shot, but he had spent more than four months training with Rich Sadiv, the director of the NFL Combine Program for the Parisi Speed System in Fair Lawn, N.J. The Parisi School is one of the leading authorities in preparing college players for the Combine, producing players who have gone on to place top scores in several of the Combine’s events. Senat built his speed and strength and gained even more bulk, achieving a weight of more than 300 pounds.

“I finally got the chance to show everyone all the work I had done,” Senat said.

His solid performance at the Combine increased his likelihood of being drafted, and while he did falter a bit during the 40-yard dash, Senat was able to redo his score during Pro Day, when NFL Scouts visit college campuses to evaluate prospects. While NFL analysts like Lance Zierlein admire Senat’s athletic build and reflexes, he writes that Senat still needs to work on his technique if he wants to be an asset to the Ravens.

Senat attended the Ravens’ rookie minicamp during the May 4 weekend, when he and the rest of the newcomers were briefed on the team’s playing style and what was expected of them. Echoing the words of NFL analysts, Baltimore Raven’s staff writer Ryan Mink wrote that Senat had impressive reflexes and speed, but could use more bulk. Senat was among eight of the rookies to officially sign with the Ravens, committing to a standard four-year contract with the team. Although Senat was given the number 64 jersey, he and the other rookies may choose to change it to another number before the season begins. While his old 72 is already assigned, Senat still wants a number in the 70s.

He will return to Maryland in the coming weeks for the Ravens’ Organized Team Activities camp. Senat plans to move officially once training camp begins in the summer.