Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Live Long and Prosper: Vulcans from Cal (Pa.) Continue NFL Invasion

With its undergrad enrollment of approx. 7,000, California University is situated in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania, kind of in the middle of nowhere, approximately halfway between Pittsburgh and Morgantown, W. Va. The school competes in NCAA Division II football in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, and while the Vulcans have experienced on-field success in recent years, their team achievement is probably best expressed by the players' impressively strong GPAs. "Cal" is a former teacher's college founded in 1852, and being a student-athlete there seems to actually hold some meaning.

But what the heck. Now that former Vulcans defensive back Tommie Campbell and quarterback Josh Portis both made NFL rosters as rookies over the weekend, that makes a total of four Vulcans in the football big-time. Campbell with the Tennessee Titans and Portis with the Seattle Seahawks join fellow ex-Vulcans wide receiver Dominique Curry (St. Louis Rams) and cornerback/punt returner Terrence Johnson (Indianapolis Colts) as members of the 53-player active rosters with their respective teams.

Campbell--pictured, left, completing a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown--was a longshot seventh-round draft choice who played well in the preseason and now will back up Titans All-Pro Cortland Finnegan. Portis made an even more surprising leap, from complete unknown--signed as an undrafted free agent by the Seahawks in July--and now enters the season as the third-string quarterback behind Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst. (Stay ready, Josh. You never know what'll happen with those two guys.)

Curry is enjoying active-roster status with the Rams for the second-straight year. In 2010, he became the first Vulcan to play in an NFL regular-season game since wide receiver Perry Kemp in 1991. Johnson, meanwhile, made the active roster with the Colts this year after spending 2010 on the team's practice squad. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the New England Patriots.

A fifth ex-Vulcan, wide receiver Derrick Jones, entered training camp with the Oakland Raiders before being placed on injured reserve on Aug. 10.

Meanwhile, for the seventh consecutive year, The Princeton Review has named California U. one of the best colleges and universities in the northeastern U. S. In its online profile, TPR notes the university’s “long tradition of excellence in teacher education and a variety … of other programs” in liberal arts, science and technology and professional studies. (The latter didn't include football, of course, but the Vulcans appear to be a school to watch in that area.) Nationally, only about 25 percent of the country’s 2,500 four-year institutions are selected as regional "bests."

For all you ever wanted to know about Cal U.--and that hungry Vulcans football squad--visit Calvulcans.com.

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