SENIOR BOWL NOTEBOOK: Family First In Mobile; Other Notes

Posted Jan 27, 2016

This week’s practices feature four Senior Bowl participants with a brother who either plays or played in the NFL.

MOBILE, Ala. — It’s deja vu for the North team at the Senior Bowl.

For the second time in three years, there’s an offensive lineman with the gold helmet of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish wearing number 72 and with the name “MARTIN” on the back of his jersey.

The number 72 is Nick Martin and, yes, he’s the younger brother of former Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin, who played in the 2015 Senior Bowl and went on to become a first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in the 2014 NFL draft.

Not surprisingly, Nick got some advice from his brother on what to expect before he flew to Mobile this week.

“He says it’s going to be hectic,” Nick said, “but when it comes down to it, you’ve just got to play football, have some fun with it but play hard.”

It was more or less the same kind of advice Penn State’s Carl Nassib got from older brother Ryan Nassib, who played in the 2013 Senior Bowl before becoming a fourth-round pick of the New York Giants three months later.

Unlike the Martins, the Nassib brothers play different positions — Ryan was a quarterback at Syracuse, while Carl was a defensive end at Penn State.

“I can’t throw a ball to save my life,” Carl said. “He got those genes. I got the defensive end genes, I guess.”

Carl Nassib got natural defensive end ability, no doubt about it. It helps explain the phenomenal 2015 season he enjoyed when he set a school record with 15.5 sacks and had six forced fumbles, the highest total for a Penn State player since 2002.

Nassib was rewarded for his efforts when he was named winner of the Ted Hendricks Award as the top defensive end in college football, as well as the Lombardi Award for the top lineman or linebacker.

Nassib, projected as a possible second-round pick in the 2016 draft, showed a self-deprecating sense of humor when he was asked to compare his style to that of a current NFL player.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in the NFL that’s as awkward as I am, so I don’t really want to insult anybody by saying that they play like me,” he said. “So I don’t know. I don’t really know anybody that plays like I do.”

Nassib and Martin are two of the four Senior Bowl participants with a brother who plays or played in the NFL, along with Stanford offensive tackle Kyle Murphy and Kansas State tight end Glenn Gronkowski.

Yes, Gronkowski is the brother of Patriots All-Pro Rob Gronkowski. Another Gronkowski brother, Dan, played 21 games for four different teams from 2009-11.

Gronkowski, who declared early for the draft as a fourth-year junior, went to Mobile as a fullback because his size (6-2, 238) makes him better suited for that position.

He is considered perhaps the best fullback prospect in the draft, although he likely won’t get selected until the final day of the draft.

Murphy’s brother, Kevin, spent time on the Minnesota Vikings’ active roster in 2013, although he didn’t appear in a game.

While Kevin Murphy played at Harvard, Kyle ended up at Stanford and is now projected as a potential third-round pick.

“He wasn’t fortunate enough to get an invite to this game, but he’s kind of always preached work ethic,” Kyle said of his brother. “Now going to the NFL, there’s the business side and how yo’ve got to approach every day, not like it’s your last but it really could be like that. Success is in the details and you’ve got to work every day to try to be the best player you can be, and that really was kind of the same thing in college.”

Nassib, who went from walk-on to award winner at Penn State, perhaps someday will be the one giving out advice to a younger brother — John Nassib just finished his sophomore season at the University of Delaware.

“It’s really nice having an older brother that went through it all,” Carl Nassib said. “I’ve got my little brother that’s going through it now. It’s really tough to be a student-athlete and play at the highest level of college football. They were always there and I couldn’t be happier that they’re going through it.”


Because of rain in the forecast, the Senior Bowl practices Wednesday were moved back more than two hours.

The temperature in Mobile on Wednesday afternoon was 46, although the rain stopped shortly before the North team started the first practice at noon, local time.


Three players were sidelined because of injuries suffered on the first day of practice Tuesday.

One of them was Florida tight end Jake McGee, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Getting the call to replace McGee was Arkansas State tight end Darion Griswold, who arrived in time for the South practice later in the afternoon.

Another addition was Arizona State running back D.J. Foster.

The other players injured were Missouri guard Connor McGovern (hamstring) and Ohio State linebacker Joshua Perry (groin strain).


The Reese’s Senior Bowl has joined the fantasy crazy, offering football fans an interactive fantasy game to find undervalued “draft stocks” in competition with friends and other fans.

Participants test their talent-scouting skills by identifying athletes who offer the best value from the pool of NFL draft prospects.

Game play is free and available immediately at


USC quarterback Cody Kessler hit Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo with a 40-yard touchdown pass in a one-on-one drill. ... Temple defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis consistently won his one-on-one matchups over the first two days of practice. ... Penn State defensive tackle Austin Johnson got to the running back in the backfield on a running play in a team drill and generally was very active. ... Auburn cornerback Jonathan Jones did not allow a completion during a series of one-on-one drills. ... With the wind at his back, Duke kicker Ross Martin made a 60-yard field goal. ... Middle Tennessee safety Kevin Byard made a leaping interception on a deep pass during team drills.
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