By Jerry Del Priore
With week one of the NFL season underway, it’s a good time to look at ex-PSAL players who used to grace New York City high school gridirons and now roam NFL fields, a trip that seemed miles away to most NYC student-athlete, but became possible through hard work and determination, plus a ton of skill.
Folorunso “Foley” Fatukasi, whom the New York Jets grabbed in the sixth round, the 180th-overall pick, of the 2018 NFL Draft, made the team out of training camp.
A 23-year-old defensive lineman with good strength and power, Fatukasi, who is a stout six-foot-four, 318 pound run-stopper, starred at Beach Channel High School (Far Rockaway, Queens) and for the University of Connecticut.
Rashaad Coward – Chicago Bears
Coward, 23, played for Sheepshead Bay High School in Brooklyn and Old Dominion University before making the Chicago Bears’ practice squad in 2017. He played in one game last season.
Coward, a six-foot-six, 320-pound offensive tackle, said he used football as a means to escape the rough-and-tumble Brooklyn streets, and eventually a determined focus to play at the next level in the Windy City.
Dominic Easley – Los Angeles Rams
Easley was a man amongst boys on the PSAL gridirons while playing for Curtis High School in Staten Island.
Considered a five-star recruit by ESPN.com, Easley was listed as the No. 1 defensive tackle in the country in 2010. The six-two Easley played with the University of Florida Gators and then New England Patriots selected him in the first round, 28th overall pick, of the 2014 NFL Draft.
After more than a year on the shelf with a torn ACL, the 26-year-old Easley is playing outside linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams, a new position for him.
Curtis Samuel – Carolina Panthers
Samuel, 22, enjoyed a fruitful, dynamic career on offense for Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn. That prompted the Ohio State Buckeyes to sign the speedy all-purpose offensive threat to play for its storied college football program.
The first-team All-Big Ten pick scampered for 771 yards and eight touchdowns (97 carries, 8.0 yards per carry) and collared 74 passes for 865 yards and seven scores in 2016. Plus, he led the conference with 128.8 all-purpose yards per game and led Ohio State with 15 total touchdowns that same year.
Thusly, the Carolina Panthers picked him in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, in which he mans the wide-out position for the team at the moment.