I was poking around trying to find any details I could on this week's 2011 Senior Bowl and I came across an interesting note. Over at DraftInsider.net (one of the sources used for our Shrine Game coverage) they opened their Senior Bowl coverage yesterday with an interesting comment on center Brandon Fusco:
Brandon Fusco of Slippery Rock is one of the more interesting small school prospects in this game. Sixty (60) different scouts made their way through the western Pennsylvania school this season to watch Fusco practice. The Miami Dolphins, San Fransisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings were teams that made multiple trips to see the center.
I have a couple question in regards to this bit of news. Over the course of the college football season the 49ers found themselves running with center David Baas. After Eric Heitmann went down Baas took over and finished the season with a relatively strong performance. It seems fairly likely that Baas will be the starting center going forward. He's turning 30 this year so he's not exactly a spring chicken in football years.
The team cut loose Cody Wallace last preseason and it makes sense that they might be looking for a new backup center to maybe develop into a starter. Wallace didn't work out in that role so I suppose it's back to the drawing board at the reserve role. Eric Heitmann would seem to fill that role for now, but who knows how long he'll be on the roster.
As the tea considers a guy like Fusco at this point, there are a couple ways to consider this. On the one hand, mutliple visits could indicate actual interest in Fusco. It could also simply be a case of dealing with a small school player and wanting to verify things the game film might not provide.
For those wondering who Brandon Fusco is, his biggest accomplishment this year would probably be winning the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award. After finishing third in 2009, Fusco received 29 first-place and 30 second-place votes in 2010. Courtesy psacsports.org, the 6'4⅛, 302-pound center earned first-team Preseason All-America honors last summer from The Sporting News, Consensus Draft Services, D2Football.com and D2PRODAY.com and three first-team All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference-Western Division honors during his career.
Division II is certainly a step down in competition, but it will be interesting to see how this impacts Fusco's draft status. Scouts Inc ranks him as the 18th best center at this point. I don't know if he'll receive an invite to the Combine, but we'll keep an eye on Fusco given the multiple visits by the 49ers.