A former FSU defensive ends coach is taking draft credit for one player who wasn’t in his position group, another who was and then changed to offense, and another whom he coached for about three weeks before leaving for an NFL job.
Sal Sunseri is currently the defensive line coach at Florida. On Friday, he tweeted a graphic in which he takes some credit for three players at rival Florida State getting drafted in 2018.
Sunseri spent 2013 and 2014 as the Seminoles’ defensive ends coach. He shared a football building for at least a little bit with nose tackle Derrick Nnadi, defensive end Josh Sweat, and offensive lineman Rick Leonard. Those names are important here:
If that looks odd to you, it looked even odder to Nnadi:
College teams and coaches do things like this all the time. There are all manner of dubious ways for teams to claim players as their own. A common one is to assign draft picks to members of their coaching staffs who crossed paths with a draftee in some capacity at some earlier stop. That can lead to silly looks, like Michigan claiming Ohio State players …
— Matt Finkes (@MattFinkes) February 28, 2018
… or, in this case, Florida making a graphic that credits a current Gators assistant with developing a trio of Florida State draft picks. But this set of claims is extra weird.
Sunseri has since deleted the tweet with the graphic and added:
Blessed to have had the opportunity in the recruitment of great players to every program I have coached. So happy for their success after moving on. Always love the players that’s what it’s all about! #whosnext
— Sal Sunseri (@coachsunseri) May 11, 2018
Florida and Sunseri were trying too hard to take credit for these FSU players.
The graphic says UF’s coaching staff “had a total of 15 players taken” in the 2018 draft. That’s broad phrasing, and the word “had” is doing a lot of work. It implies direct involvement, as if Sunseri had something big to do with them getting picked.
Nnadi, a Chiefs third-round pick, played nose tackle at FSU from 2014-17. Sunseri was the defensive ends coach from 2013-14. Nnadi’s point that Sunseri didn’t even coach him thus makes sense. Of course he didn’t, because Nnadi played one position and Sunseri coached another. They probably saw each other a lot, but that’s not being someone’s coach.
Sweat, an Eagles fourth-round pick, played for the ‘Noles from 2015-17. He was an early enrollee in 2015, apparently arriving on campus in early January. Sunseri was his defensive ends coach for about three weeks before news broke he was taking an NFL job. And even then, he wasn’t really coaching him much, because:
And Sweat was hurt (gruesome knee injury) when he enrolled so he was never coached by him, he was rehabbing.
— Tomahawk Nation (@Tomahawknation) May 11, 2018
Leonard, a Saints fourth-rounder, played at FSU from 2014-17. He played defensive end under Sunseri in 2014. He later moved to right tackle and got drafted as a tackle. This is by far the least absurd of these draft claims by Florida and Sunseri.
All in all, this is a first-ballot entry to the Dubious College Draft Claims Hall of Fame.
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