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Rising OT draft prospect was beating Bona just 2 years ago

INDIANAPOLIS – Many of the prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine can say they played in front of 80,000 or more fans in famous places like Michigan's "Big House," Louisiana State's Tiger Stadium, the Los Angeles Coliseum or "Death Valley" in Clemson, S.C.

One of the biggest crowds diamond-in-the-rough tackle Greg Senat ever played before was in Allegany. At the Reilly Center. On the basketball court against St. Bonaventure.

Senat played four years of Division I basketball for Wagner College on Staten Island. He was a member of the Wagner team that upset the Bonnies in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament in 2016.

That spring, the big power forward decided he wanted to join the Wagner football team, even though he had not played the game since his freshman year of high school.

Two years later, the 6-foot-6, 302-pounder is in Indianapolis as a serious prospect to make the NFL. He impressed at the East-West Shrine Game in January. He's viewed as a sixth- or seventh-round draft candidate or maybe a free-agent signing.

He has come a long way from that NIT game, when Wagner knocked off the Bonnies, 79-75, before 4,793 fans.

"That was probably the craziest basketball game of my career," Senat said this week. "They packed the gym, and it gets rowdy up there. It was a game not a lot of people felt we could win. We were big underdogs. The excitement in the locker room after winning was incredible. It's something you never forget. It was the first postseason win in our school's history."

Wagner's Greg Senat defended St. Bonaventure's Denzel Gregg in NIT action at the Reilly Center on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

Senat was a bit player on the Wagner hoops team, averaging 10 minutes a game. He immediately made a bigger impact in football. Wagner competes at the lower Division I Football Championship Subdivision level.

"I couldn't be any prouder of Greg," said Wagner coach Jason Houghtaling. "When he came over to us from basketball, he was about 245 pounds and someone we envisioned as a tight end. He switched to the offensive line, where he put on more than 40 pounds of mass, and found a home as our starting right tackle for 22 games over two seasons."

"The football coaches had always wanted me to come out ever since I got on campus, and I was at a point in my life where I said, you know what, I’m going to take this opportunity," Senat said. "I played in eighth and ninth grade, if that means anything. I stopped playing football because I thought basketball would be the way for me to go to school. I wanted a scholarship and I had been playing basketball since I was 10 so that was my first love. I wanted to give all of myself to one thing."

Obviously, Senat is a raw prospect. He probably will need to spend a year on a practice squad to build up his strength and work on his knee-bending and anchoring ability against power defenders.

But his wingspan and athleticism makes him one of the intriguing small-school prospects in the draft class. His arm length of 34 7/8 inches is fifth-longest of 48 offensive linemen at the Combine. The fact he was up to 302 pounds this week was a good sign.

"I was between 285 and 295 this season," Senat said. "I just had to up my intake. ... I definitely want to get bigger. I think I can add 10 or 15 more pounds and still be as athletic as I am and move the same way I do now."

Senat was the first player from the FCS Northeast Conference ever invited to the East-West Shrine game. He did not look out of place in that all-star game in January.

He thinks his basketball background will be a big help in the NFL.

"When you're blocking out there, you're pretty much defensive sliding, trying to stay in front of the defender," Senat said. "I think playing basketball has helped me develop the quick feet that kind of conditioning and the quick-twitch you need to play on the offensive line."

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