The Holy Spirit High School class of 2011 has two players headed to the NFL.
A few hours after Wesley College quarterback Joe Callahan became a Green Bay Packer on Saturday, University of Southern California linebacker Anthony Sarao signed with the Indianapolis Colts.
Both players, who were teammates at Holy Spirit, signed as undrafted rookies.
“That’s my dude,” Sarao said of Callahan during a telephone interview Sunday. “He was my quarterback at Spirit, and we’ve been friends for a long time. We even trained together for our Pro Days (leading up to the draft). I’m as happy for him as I am for myself.”
Sarao, 5-feet-11 and 233 pounds, was a captain for the Trojans last season as a senior. The weakside linebacker made 59 tackles, five tackles for loss, and had three sacks. For his career, he had 217 tackles, 121/2 for loss, seven sacks, five pass deflections and two interceptions.
After the season, he played in the East-West Shrine game. Although he wasn’t invited to the scouting combine in Indianapolis, he impressed NFL scouts during USC’s Pro Day.
“I actually thought I was going to get drafted because teams were telling me they saw me as a sixth- or seventh-round pick,” said Sarao, who turned 23 on Friday.
“A couple of teams contacted me after the draft about signing (as a free agent), but I was pretty sure I was going to sign with the Colts. I had a good relationship with their coaching staff at the East-West Shrine game and all during the (predraft) process. I like the coaching staff, and I like their (defensive system). I think they have a great organization and I want to be a part of it.”
According to ESPN.com, the Colts were looking to add some depth at inside linebacker after losing Jerrell Freeman to Chicago during free agency in March. Another veteran player, D’Qwell Jackson, is 32 and entering his 11th NFL season.
The Colts also drafted University of Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison in the fourth round.
Sarao’s background in special teams should help him. He was a key member of that unit for the Trojans during all four seasons.
Sarao, who is a few credits short of earning a master’s degree in communications management, will leave for the Colts’ rookie camp Thursday. He plans to remain in Indianapolis to participate in their offseason workout program.
“At the end of the day, I just needed to get my foot in the door,” Sarao said. “I’m excited to get the opportunity, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make the most of it. I’m going to stay hungry.”
In addition to Callahan and Sarao, St. Augustine Prep graduate and Galloway Township resident Austin Johnson also joined the NFL. The Penn State defensive tackle was drafted in the second round by the Tennessee Titans on Friday.
St. Joseph High School graduate Kaiwan Lewis, who played linebacker at South Carolina and Rutgers, was not drafted and had not signed as a free agent as of Sunday evening.
Callahan, Sarao and Johnson will try to join four other local players in the NFL. Longport resident and St. Augustine Prep graduate Jack Crawford (Penn State) is a defensive lineman with Dallas. Stafford Township native Clark Harris (Southern Regional, Rutgers) is a long snapper with Cincinnati. St. Joseph graduate Max Valles (Virginia) is a linebacker with Buffalo.
Bridgeton native Dominique Williams (Wagner) signed a free-agent contract with the New York Jets in the offseason after spending two seasons on Minnesota’s practice squad.