Packers invite former Falcon center Scott Witte to mini camp
May 7, 2009
After four seasons, three of them including All-WIAC honors, Scott Witte, a center for the UW-River Falls football team, has a chance to further his football career with the Green Bay Packers with an invite to the teams’ rookie minicamp. “Just a great feeling,” Witte said in a telephone interview while at the mini camp. “It’s always been a dream of mine, so now I have a chance.”
A dream does not mean all fun and games, though. Since he arrived, Witte has been on the field for nearly 12 hours a day. On top of that, there are more film sessions, where coaches and players analyze and break down the practices. Witte is among some stellar competition at camp with players from the Div. I level, who were not selected in the 2009 NFL draft, trying out for spots on the Packers roster.
“I’m at a disadvantage,” he said. “I played Div. III and most of these guys played at the highest level in college, so I have a lot of work to do.” For Falcon Head Coach John O’Grady, it has been a long wait to have one of his players be chosen to take part in the NFL. “[It’s] been a very long time,” he said. “Can’t really remember the last time one of our guys was in that position.
Scott is a great football player and we are all very proud of him. It is pretty exciting.” The Falcons have changed their offense from the wishbone, primarily an all rushing attack, to a more conventional or spread offense to adapt to the athleticism of their players.
O’Grady said the new offense has helped Witte, but he will learn quickly about the importance of pass protection in the NFL. “I think the change in offense will help him,” O’Grady said. “But the league is much more complicated in blocking. If you can’t pass block you will not survive there.
It has been like that for a long time and will continue to be that way.” The change of offensive schemes might have saved UWRF from losing Witte after his freshman season, as he was considering a change in schools. “I thought about transferring after my first year,” Witte said. “I decided to stay and we got a new offense. The wishbone is not used that much anymore and there is none of it in the NFL.”
Witte said he owes the success he had in college to his coaching staff, more in particular, O’Grady, who has been the Falcon head coach since 1989, and offensive coordinator and line coach Andy Kotelnicki. “If it wasn’t for them I would not be in this position,” Witte said. “They have helped me so much in becoming a football player.”
Prior to coaching at UWRF, Kotelnicki was the starting center for the Falcons from 2001-03 and was the team captain in his senior season. “It has been a big help to have him coach me,” Witte said. “He really understands the position well.”
The past football season was Kotelnicki’s third as a Falcon assistant coach and with Witte being a center, the two have worked closely together during those seasons. Even though they both played the same position for UWRF, Kotelnicki said the comparisons end there.
“I can tell you one thing. He was a hell of a lot better player than I was,” he said. For Kotelnicki, he said it is a thrill to see one of his players, especially from a position that he once played, get a chance at the professional ranks. “It’s really exciting,” he said.
“We had a feeling that he would get a shot, whether it was the CFL [Canadian Football League] or the NFL. He is that good of a player. Scott has the size and strength to do really well there.” The chances might be slim for Witte and O’Grady acknowledged that, but said he still has a chance. “Let’s be realistic. It’s going to be tough,” O’Grady said.
“But he is there and he got a shot to play and that is all he could ask for. As long as you get a shot, you can do something.”
If the NFL does not pan out for Witte, he said there are potential for other plans in football. “There’s always the possibility of coaching,” Witte said. “It would be something small. Probably back home at my high school.”