Wilder reacts to former players signing NFL contracts

NORFOLK (WAVY) – Bobby Wilder strongly believed Zach Pascal, one of the most prolific receivers in Old Dominion’s eight-year history, would hear his named called in last weekend’s NFL Draft, and in so doing, become the first Monarch ever to be drafted. The draft came and went, and still, ODU’s young program is still waiting for that first ever draft pick.

Still, three former Monarchs, Pascal, Rashaad Coward and Anthony Wilson, all found NFL homes as undrafted free-agents. Pascal, who grew up eight miles from FedEx Field, signed with his hometown Washington Redskins. Coward, an imposing defensive lineman, signed with the Chicago Bears and linebacker Anthony Wilson with the San Francisco 49ers.

Wilder said he stayed in close contact with all three players through the draft, and was reminded of another former player with draft potential. “It reminded me of the same situations we went through with Taylor Heinicke, where he wasn’t drafted but we had a pretty good option for him,” said Wilder.

Heinicke, the all-time leading passer in ODU history, was picked up by the Minnesota Vikings in 2015 and remains on the Vikings’ roster to this day. “We knew the Vikings were interested (in Heinicke). Same thing with Zach and Rashaad.

“There were specific teams that were very interested , and for Zach to end up with the Redskins, we all felt like that was a good situation. And then for Rashaad to end up with the Bears, same thing.”

Pascal finds himself with a golden opportunity. DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, two of the Redskins’ top receiving targets from last season, opted to leave Washington once their contracts expired.

Wilder is hoping another one of his former players picks up an offer soon. T.J. Ricks is the rags-to-riches linebacker out of Kecoughtan High School who began his career as a walk-on and ended it as the Defensive MVP of the Bahamas Bowl. Ricks hasn’t been signed yet.