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Rather than ending his football career with the Quakers, senior offensive lineman Tommy Dennis has hopes of going pro.

Credit: Alec Druggan

As his Penn career comes to an end, senior offensive lineman Tommy Dennis has hopes of being drafted to the NFL.

During his time at Penn, Dennis started in every game from his sophomore to senior year. He was named second team All-Ivy in his junior and senior seasons. Dennis attributes some of the recognition he got while at Penn to the fact that he started for three years.

Penn hosted a Pro Day on March 18 of this year. Though not many scouts showed up, Dennis was ready to show off his versatility and agility as a player, taking advantage of any chance he could to prove his ability.

“[The] Ivy League, it’s pretty good football, but obviously the guys at Alabama, coming from bigger schools, [the scouts] wanted to see if I could compete at that level,” Dennis said.

Prior to Penn’s Pro Day, Dennis competed at a higher level when he was invited to the Football Championship Subdivision Senior Bowl, which took place on Dec. 9, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. There, he played in games alongside FCS Division I prospects and practiced against them in one-on-one drills.

Since he did well at the FCS Senior Bowl, Dennis was also invited to the Football Bowl Subdivision Senior Bowl, where he had a chance to play with and against players from bigger football schools. His goal was to show that he could compete with players from schools like Alabama and Florida State.

On April 5, Dennis was invited to the New York Giants’ local Pro Day. He got to spend the day at the Giants’ facility in East Rutherford, N.J. 

“That was one of the coolest things I’ve done so far, and it just shows how it’s really happening,” Dennis said. “You dream about it, and then you get to actually play in those facilities, so that’s very cool.”

Recently, Dennis hired an agent, Brian Adkins, to help him with his recruitment process. Adkins has experience helping other players get drafted to the NFL.

Dennis follows in the footsteps of Penn players like wide receiver Justin Watson, who graduated from Wharton in 2018. Watson was drafted as the 114th overall pick in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and remains on their roster after his rookie season.

“He’s a good friend of mine, so I’ve been talking to him a lot through this,” Dennis said. “He obviously just went through it last year, so he’s been helping me out a lot with the process, just making sure I’m doing all the right things, talking to the right people.” 

Greg Van Roten, who graduated from Penn in 2012, has also provided support for Dennis. Van Roten currently plays for the Carolina Panthers, where he was a full-time starter at left guard in 2018. Dennis met Van Roten during his junior year at Penn, and since they play the same position, Van Roten has had some invaluable insight for Dennis.

Even though he is not on any major mock draft boards, Dennis believes that his prospects look good. So far, he has talked to the Giants, Jets, Ravens, and Buccaneers, as well as a few teams in California. Dennis is confident that he will be drafted.

“If I didn’t think I had a chance, I wouldn’t be doing it.”

The NFL draft takes place from April 25-27 in Nashville, Tenn.