It was a big weekend for former WPIAL football as five former players were selected in the 2020 NFL Draft.
To most people, the biggest surprise was former Pine-Richland and James Madison quarterback Ben DiNucci getting selected in the seventh round by the Dallas Cowboys. It was a historic moment for the Rams football program as DiNucci became the first player ever drafted from the Pine-Richland football program.
DiNucci’s former head coach Eric Kasperowicz, like millions of other people this weekend, was tuned into the draft and felt a lot of different emotions when seeing his former player selected by the Cowboys.
“The first thing that came into my head was being delighted for him because I know how hard he’s worked to get to this point,” Kasperowicz told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “It was such a good feeling inside knowing that this was a player that I had the pleasure of coaching for 3.5/4 years and to see how far he’s come was great and I’m estatic for him and his family and his future.”
The former Pine-Richland star traveled a long road to get to the point of getting drafted including transferring from Pitt to play and end his college career at James Madison. It’s ironic but in the end, leaving a Power Five program allowed DiNucci to fully display his talents and ultimately become drafted.
In case you somehow missed it yesterday.
— JMU Football (@JMUFootball) April 26, 2020
“For him, Pitt was a bad fit as they were going through a couple different offensive coordinators there,” said Kasperowicz. “The system they had wasn’t suited well for him but it did at James Madison. In today’s football, these levels of football aren’t as far apart as they used to be. There’s some really good FCS teams out there that could compete against and beat some FBS teams, back in the day, it never used to be that way because a lot of really talented players are ending up at FCS schools. The most important thing for Ben was that he was playing football and able to be seen by scouts. In today’s day and age, it doesn’t matter where you’re playing, if you’re any good scouts are able to find you.”
DiNucci is heading to the Dall and will be coached by former Green Bay coach and Western Pennsylvania native Mike McCarthy, which Kasperowicz believes played a part in them taking a shot on him.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) April 26, 2020
“I think there was familiarity, no doubt, and a tie being from Western Pennsylvania,” Kasperowicz said. “But ultimately, it’s Ben himself that made this happen. He just kept improving, especially with his footwork and Ben’s arm talent is crazy good. He was the pure talent of being able to throw a football and I think he’s going to be a great fit for that West Coast/Mike McCarthy offense. I think he’s going to have a real opportunity to shine.”
Getting drafted is a dream come true for DiNucci and his family but also a proud moment for Kasperowicz, the Pine-Richland School District and all of the coaches that have been a part of his development. Getting the chance to watch the call that DiNucci received from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and McCarthy was something special.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) April 25, 2020
“I couldn’t be happier for Ben and his family,” said Kasperowicz. “I believe it’s the first player drafted into the NFL from the Pine-Richland district. It’s such a pleasure for myself, my staff, our football program and our community. We’re a small community and people here take a lot of pride in what we do, from football to cheerleading to dance, to baseball to hockey and everything. To have a guy like Ben DiNucci come out and do what he did and have the opportunity to play at the highest level is tremendous. When Neil Walker became the first player to get drafted from here, he became a legend. Now it’s Ben’s turn.”