NFL Draft: Kirkwood and Blacknall Sign as Free Agents, Basile and Beverette Invited to Rookie Camp
The total numbers of former Shore Conference standouts to land with pro teams is now six after Manalapan's Saeed Blacknall and Neptune's Keith Kirkwood were signed as undrafted free agents while Brick Memorial's Mike Basile and Lakewood's Tyrice Beverette were offered tryouts.
When the 2018 NFL Draft concluded Saturday night two players from the Shore had been drafted. Quenton Nelson (Red Bank Catholic/Notre Dame) was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the No. 6 overall pick and Mike Gesicki (Southern/Penn State) was scooped up by the Miami Dolphins with the No. 42 overall selection. Following the seventh and final round, teams began assembling their crop of undrafted free agents and rookie camp invitees, and four from the Shore Conference got the call they'd been waiting for.
Kirkwood signed with the New Orleans Saints as an UDFA while Blacknall signed with the Oakland Raiders. Basile (Monmouth University) was invited to the Colts rookie camp and Beverette (Stony Brook) was invited to rookie camp with the New York Jets.
Kirkwood didn't even play football until giving it a try during his senior year at Neptune, and his skills as a basketball player immediately translated to the gridiron. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound wide receiver earned an FBS scholarship from the University of Hawaii and caught four touchdown passes during his freshman season with the Warriors. He transferred to Temple for his sophomore year and was a two-year starter for the Owls, finishing his career with 103 receptions for 1,638 yards and 16 touchdowns, including 671 yards and 7 touchdowns this past season.
Blacknall, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound wide receiver, played in 30 games over his four-year career at Penn State and finished with 50 receptions for 979 yards and seven touchdowns. His signature moment came as a junior when he caught six passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns, setting the Big Ten Championship Game record for receiving yards to help the Nittany Lions defeat Wisconsin in the conference title game.
After a great high school career at Brick Memorial where he played both running back and safety, Basile picked Monmouth University and made an instant impact with the Hawks upon his arrival. The 6-foot, 200-pound safety finished his career as Monmouth’s all-time leader with 433 career tackles, and his 285 solo tackles are also first all-time at Monmouth and in Big South Conference history. He is the first four-time All-Conference player in Monmouth history and is the only Monmouth player to earn First Team AP All-America honors, which he earned this past season. He was also selected as the FCS Defensive Back of the Year.
Beverette, a 6-foot, 210-pound safety who also played quarterback in high school, made 262 tackles over the course of his college career, including 161 solo stops and 27.5 tackles for loss, 5 interceptions, 14 sacks, 17 pass deflections and 7 forced fumbles.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.