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Seeing Light; Star TE looks to pro shot.

Byline: Jennifer Toland

A knee injury ended Dan Light's senior season at Fordham prematurely, but it certainly hasn't halted his aspirations to play professionally.

Light, a tight end from Sutton and former St. John's High star, is about 41/2 months along in his recovery from surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He is running, lifting and should be cutting soon, and by June 9 expects to be cleared for other football-related activities.

Based on his body of work at Fordham, where he was a three-time All-Patriot League first-team selection, his potential, and his desire, Light is hopeful one of the NFL's 32 teams will give him an opportunity during or soon after this weekend's NFL Draft.

"I think the bottom line is I'll get a shot somewhere,'' Light said last week in an interview from the Fordham campus, "and it's just a matter of if I take advantage of it.''

Light planned to monitor the draft in the comfort of his family's Sutton home and with his mom, Dawn, and his siblings, Zach and Jenna, by his side. His dad, Dan, who passed away in 2013, will certainly be a presence as well.

After a standout career at St. John's, where he led the Pioneers to a Super Bowl title, Light continued to star at Fordham and finished his college career as one of the top tight ends in Rams history.

Light was a two-time All-American, and as a junior, led all FCS tight ends with 66 receptions. Last season, he continued to fill the role of pass catcher (43 receptions, 385 yards, 6 touchdowns), and also blocked for running back Chase Edmonds, who rushed for 1,838 yards and was the Jerry Rice Award winner as the top FCS freshman.

Before the 2014 season, Holy Cross coach Tom Gilmore marveled at Light's size -- he had added 30 pounds since his freshman year and at 6-foot-5, 265, had really grown into a prototypical tight end. Scouts came through the Bronx, and Light continued to put in the work that he hoped would take him to the next level.

During a kickoff return just before halftime in Fordham's 2014 regular-season finale against Army, Light suffered the knee injury.

"I had a pretty good idea when I came off the field that it wasn't too good,'' Light said.

Then he got the diagnosis and learned he would need surgery. Fordham captured the Patriot League title, but Light had to watch as his teammates advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs.

"It was definitely upsetting,'' Light said. "I was let down that I worked so hard to build myself to where I was and I got cheated a little bit. But you kind of roll with the punches, and in life, 10 percent is what happens to you, 90 percent is how you respond to it, so that's kind of where I come from. Whatever hand you're dealt, you play.''

In recent weeks, Light has heard from scouts and/or tight ends coaches from the Dolphins, Chiefs, Broncos and Giants, and those conversations have bolstered his confidence.

Light believes there is an outside shot he will be drafted in a late round, but more likely would get his chance with an NFL team as a free agent.

How cool would it be if there were two former St. John's High stars playing tight end in the NFL in 2015? Richard Rodgers, a former Pioneers teammate of Light's, is coming off a very good rookie season with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, who played collegiately at Cal, was a third-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Light took off the second semester of his sophomore year at Fordham to be home with his dad, who was battling ALS. He passed away in August 2013 at age 45, but never stopped inspiring his son. And the younger Dan, with his positivity and purpose, has carried on his dad's spirit while making his family proud.

Light will graduate from Fordham May 16 with a degree in business. He turns 22 next Tuesday and an opportunity from an NFL team would be one great birthday gift.

"The first couple days (after suffering the knee injury), I felt like my dream was over and all that,'' Light said, "but I had time to reflect on it, and you realize life goes on, and you can come back from it. You see a lot of guys have come back from it, and that kind of inspired me. You realize your dream is still intact, it's just your road there might be a little different.''

Contact Jennifer Toland

at jtoland@telegram.com.

Follow her on Twitter @JenTandG.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Toland, Jennifer
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:May 2, 2015
Words:785
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