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Develin '10 joins Patriot practice squad

Former Bruno defensive lineman James Develin '10 has been signed to the practice squad of the National Football League's New England Patriots.
This is Develin's second NFL practice squad - he spent more than a season with the Cincinnati Bengals before being cut two weekends ago. Develin, who made the switch from defense to offense after college and now plays fullback, was picked up by the Patriots earlier this month.
Develin said he is excited to join his new organization - getting cut by the Bengals left him feeling "pretty bummed."
But joining the Patriots is "really a blessing," Develin said. "The prospect of coming back up to the New England area, where I went to school for four years, and being coached by the great coaching staff they have up here ­- I was really happy and obviously excited."
But joining the practice squad does not necessarily guarantee Develin any game time. In addition to its active 53-man roster, every NFL team has an eight-man practice squad whose members train with the active players. These squads are stocked mainly with young talent teams want to develop or keep on hand in case an active player is injured.
By moving up to the world's premier professional football league, Develin sacrifices the guaranteed playing time he saw in the Arena Football League. As a member of the AFL's now-defunct Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz, Develin garnered his initial professional experience. After two months with the Yard Dawgz in 2010, Develin switched to the United Football League's Florida Tuskers, where he made the transition from defensive lineman to fullback. He transferred to the Bengals before the year was out.
Develin said he decided to change positions because, at 6 feet 3 inches and 251 pounds, he doesn't have the size to play defensive lineman in the NFL.
"I was a good defensive lineman at Brown, but I don't really think that I had the skill set or the athleticism to play (that position) in the NFL," Develin said. "You look at some of these defensive ends they have playing right now and they're just absolute freaks of nature."
Kelley Cox '10, a close friend who played with Develin during his years with the Bears, said he is confident that Develin can succeed as a fullback.
"You have to be a tenacious hitter" as a fullback, Cox explained. "You have to love what we call 'the sound of music' ... Develin is the most physical player that I've ever played with."
Cox said that, in addition to having the physicality to play in the NFL, Develin also has a passion for the game that will allow him to continue to improve.
"He's freaking crazy about football," Cox said. "I don't know how he knew that he wanted to play football forever when he was 12. I don't know why. But truly passionate, in the true sense of the word, he is willing to suffer for the game ... He loves it more than he loves his fiancee."
Phil Estes, head coach of the Brown football team, said Develin has a good chance to find a role in the NFL.
"I wouldn't be surprised if you see him ... find his niche in the NFL somewhere, somewhere that really likes to have a physical fullback," Estes said. Develin was "probably one of the best, toughest, most durable football players I have ever coached," he added.
Develin said he is less certain of his chances to make it onto the 53-man roster but said he will do everything he can to show that he deserves to play on Sundays.
"I don't really know, to be honest," Develin said of his chances of making the active roster. "If I keep doing what I'm doing ... then hopefully the stars will align and I'll get my opportunity. But that's really out of my control," he added. "All I can do is ... give my best out on the field and learn the offense and I'll let Coach (Bill) Belichick and the rest of the coaches make those kinds of personnel decisions."
Despite Develin's uncertainty, his old friend remains confident. "Can he succeed?" Cox asked. "Absolutely."


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