Last week I experienced the opportunity of a lifetime. With aspirations of pursuing a career in the professional sports industry after graduation, I was invited by Steven Burkett of Eye-Scout LLC (a professional scouting and sports software company) to travel to Mobile, Ala. for the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
I witnessed firsthand the top collegiate athletes in the country, and early draft picks, battle during a one-week “tryout” for a shot in the NFL. Amongst the crowd were hundreds of NFL coaches, scouts, agents and top management executives hoping to find their next “secret weapon.”
Two particular men of interest on the sidelines are easily recognizable to the John Carroll University community – David Caldwell ’96 and Tom Telesco ’95.
Both natives of Buffalo, N.Y., the two have achieved much success in the NFL by a young age. Caldwell accepted the general manager position with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Jan. 8, 2013, and just one day later Telesco accepted the same position with the San Diego Chargers.
Not only successful businessmen, Caldwell and Telesco are also tremendous men. I had the opportunity to meet and talk with both of them in Alabama. With their knowledge, experiences and character, I couldn’t be more grateful for their mentorship.
After our conversations, Caldwell and Telesco agreed to do short interviews, so I could relay a glimpse of my experience back to the John Carroll community.
Tricia Reddy: Coming from a Division III school, how did you get your break in the NFL?
Tom Telesco: I interned for the Buffalo Bills while I was in college. I was lucky to get internships there and so every summer I interned at training camp and that’s how I kind of got my foot in the door and met some people. I didn’t know if I wanted to go into coaching, and I didn’t really know much about scouting at that point, but I saw what the coaches were doing and saw what the scouts did. Through that, I met enough people that when I graduated, I got hired by the Carolina Panthers right out of college.
David Caldwell: Fortunately for me, it was really through John Carroll. My teammate’s dad, Brian Polian, was the general manager for the Carolina Panthers. He used to come to our games and I got to know him and got that opportunity through them.
TR: Being a former athlete at John Carroll and with your busy schedule, were you able to follow the team this season? Do you have a relationship with Coach Arth?
TT: Oh yeah. Well, we had Tom Arth for a couple years at Indianapolis at quarterback, so I’ve known Tom a long time. And before Tom, Regis Scafe was the head coach and he recruited me while I was coming out of high school, so I knew Regis really well. So I am following the program all the time.
DC: I did and Tom’s a great guy. He was actually in training camp when I was with the Colts. But also Cecil Shorts is one of our [Jaguars] receivers and he played at Mount Union, so he and I would go back and forth and have a little friendly rivalry in Jacksonville about the season.
TR: What is your favorite football memory from when you were an athlete at JCU?
TT: Beating Baldwin Wallace. We had lost to Mount Union, but Mount Union beat BW, so if we beat BW it was a three way tie. The last game of the year, we beat Baldwin Wallace on their field and a whole bunch of students came on the field and tore down their goal posts and brought them back to John Carroll.
DC: My favorite memory was probably my junior year when we beat Baldwin Wallace our last game and I think we were co-champions of the OAC. And graduating was definitely up there, too.
TR: Since John Carroll helped guide you down the sports path, do you have any advice for the current JCU student body that may have aspirations for the industry?
DC: I would say that the biggest thing in the sports industry is getting in at the ground level and kind of paying dues in the beginning. Graduating from John Carroll, students have the ability to go out into the professional world and make quite a bit of money because the education is so valuable there. But you have to look at your first couple years as your graduate school to get into the industry because you’re not going to be paid a premium to do the job in the major sports.