On April 28, the third day of the NFL draft was underway at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. In the draft’s sixth round, a young Baltimore Ravens fan named Joseph Jester walked across the draft stage, carrying a suitcase he would use as a riser to reach the microphone at the podium. Standing on top of it at center stage, he announced the team’s tenth pick in the draft in front of the entire stadium.
“With the 212th pick in the 2018 NFL draft, my favorite team in the whole world is the Baltimore Ravens and they select Greg Senat, tackle from Wagner,” Jester said, looking to his right for confirmation with each pause.
About 1,500 miles away, Greg Senat and his family were together in New York City watching the draft, waiting for a phone call from one of the 32 NFL teams that could use his services. At 5 p.m., that call arrived. On the other side of the line was Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, welcoming the Elmont native to the NFL.
“We were all ecstatic. We all just exploded and were so excited,” Senat said. “This is a great organization, a great team with a great coaching staff. I’m just happy they wanted me to be part of this.”
Senat went to Elmont High School and played a plethora of different sports as a member of the school’s football team, basketball team and lacrosse team. After finding his niche in basketball, he transferred to Marianapolis Prep School starting with the 2010-11 season. He was a member of Wagner College’s men’s basketball team for the 2013-14 season and remained with the team through the 2016-17 season. Despite his commitment to basketball, in 2016, Senat had an itch to get back on the gridiron.
“The initial thought about playing football [again] was I just wanted to play it for fun,” said Senat. “I was in a place where I was missing the game. I was having fun playing basketball, but I thought it would be cool to also play football if I could.”
“When he approached me about the idea, my first response was ‘Hey, get out of my office, go down to the men’s basketball office, you guys are about to play in a championship and I’m not going to be blamed for anything,’” said Wagner football coach Jason Houghtaling. “I told him to go see [men’s basketball] coach [Bashir] Mason, then come back and see me once it’s cleared by him. The rest is history in terms of his development.”
Houghtaling and his coaching staff put Senat on the offensive line to fit his skill set. In the first few games of his career, Senat tried to adjust to the game he hadn’t played since high school.
“After a game versus Boston College in his first season, I went up and grabbed him because he had a rough day,” Houghtaling said. “He had to block [Harold] Landry, who is going to be a top NFL defensive end. [Senat] made some great plays, but there were seven or eight that didn’t look to good. It was only Greg’s third game playing football after a long break. I told him, ‘Hey, you keep working, you’re going to play in the NFL someday.’ How he responded to the adversity of the Boston College game that really showed me what kind of grit he had. He could’ve quit, but he didn’t.”
Despite early struggles, Senat went on to start all 22 games over the course of his two-year career with the football team. He focused solely on football in 2017 and then spent the start of 2018 getting ready for the draft. He participated in the East-West Shrine Game, becoming the first Wagner player to play in the college all-star game. He also attended the NFL Scouting Combine, where he participated in drills that helped give NFL teams an idea of what he could do at the pro-level.
“He has all the athletic ability in the world. He’s extremely intelligent. He just needs to develop that strength to block some of those guys. If he does that, he’s well on his way,” said Houghtaling.
A week after being drafted, Senat made his way to Baltimore to meet with Newsome, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, and the rest of the coaching staff. He began work almost immediately, playing with high draft picks Hayden Hurst and Lamar Jackson during rookie mini-camp. He’s now working with the rest of the team during OTAs.
“Training camp has been great,” said Senat. “I’m learning a lot. They’re throwing us right into the fire as rookies, which is the way it should be. You got to learn on your feet. I’ve met some great people. The coaches are giving me a lot of knowledge and taking a lot of time to teach me the nuances of the game and teach us all the fundamentals. It’s been a great learning experience and I’m getting better every day down here.”
As for his future, Senat said his goal right now is to earn one of the 53 roster spots the Ravens have available.
“As long as I keep a positive attitude and I keep on working hard like I have been doing my whole life, I think that’s all they want to see from me,” said Senat. “They want to see progress. Every day I’m doing something better and not going the other way. That’s just the mentality I’ve always had as a competitor and a person.”