From the sports editor: Gono’s NFL story is a remarkable one

Wesley College football player Matt Gono performs drills for NFL scouts Friday at the Kent County Sports Complex. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Jeremy Gono still has some things to learn about American football.

After all, it’s only been a dozen years since he moved his family from Liberia to the U.S.

“I’m a big supporter of the Eagles,” said Gono, who now makes his home in New Jersey. “I’ve come to love the game.

“I’m still learning, though. But I know a lot of things about the American football right now. I like it, I really do.”

The elder Gono may be learning a whole lot more about the sport if things keeping working out for son, Matt, the Wesley College offensive lineman.

It’s a pretty remarkable story, really.

Not only did Gono play for a Division III program, but he only took up football his freshman year in high school.

The NFL interest seems pretty legitimate, though.

Wesley coach Mike Drass said Gono has attracted more NFL interest than the Wolverines’ previous pro prospects combined. And the 18 NFL scouts who showed up to work out Gono on Friday weren’t there because they had nothing better to do.

They came to Dover because Gono is a 6-foot-4, 316-pound athlete who looked like he belonged when he played in the NFLPA All-Star Game in the Rose Bowl in January.

Of all the numbers that Gono put up on Friday, his leap of 9-feet, 10-inches in the standing broad jump seemed the most impressive.

“He’s a big kid who’s very athletic,” said Gono’s agent, Jim Ulrich, who was on hand to watch the workout. “I think his size and agility have some teams excited. But it’s still early in the process.

“He’s got a couple visits set up with some NFL teams. We’ll have a better idea the week before the draft (which starts on April 26).”

There was a certain circus atmosphere to Gono’s Pro Day on Friday.

When Gono was being tested in the weight room in Wesley’s field house, there were probably 75 people — teammates, family members, coaches and players from other Wolverine teams — all checking it out.

But along with the novelty of the situation, there seems to be a lot of people genuinely pulling for Gono, who’s known around the school as a quiet, easy-going guy.

“For our level he’s a phenomenal player, talent,” said Wolverine offensive coordinator Chip Knapp. “And on top of that, he’s a good guy and he’s a hard worker.

“You always pull for the good guys and he’s a good guy. He’s always been very coachable and a great teammate — all those things that you want out of your players. He’s a model standout player for us.”

“He really is a good kid,” said Drass. “Whatever NFL team gives him a chance, they’re going to get somebody who’s going to work hard and be a real positive person in their locker room. He’s a leader by example — and he’s a great football player.”

Jeremy Gono is still learning about what Matt can do in his relatively new-found sport. But he’s always believed in his son.

“It’s emotional,” said the elder Gono. “It can be scary. But I believe, as an optimist, that he’s going to make it all the way.”

Out of the blue

Friday’s announcement that Ryan Daly is leaving the Delaware men’s basketball program after two seasons felt like it came out of the blue.

Ryan Daly (UD sports information photo)

College athletes transfer all the time, of course.

But Daly just seemed like a player the Blue Hens would always be able to rely on — for two more years anyway.

The 6-foot-4 guard from Philadelphia had a handful of Division I offers coming out of high school. But he was still available when Martin Ingelsby wasn’t hired as Delaware’s coach until May 26 in 2016.

He was the new coach’s first recruit. Daly and Ingelsby both were Archbishop Carroll grads.

More importantly, Daly quickly proved his toughness and his ability to make shots.

Daly hardly ever left the court — he averaged 37.5 minutes this past season — and was a lock to score in double digits every game. He was only the third UD player to net 1,000 points in his first two seasons.

Named the Colonial Athletic Association 2017 Rookie of the Year, the feeling was that Ingelsby would just keep adding more talent around Daly.

Delaware came up with a second-straight Rookie of the Year in freshman guard Ryan Allen while another freshman guard, Kevin Anderson, might have been in the running for the award if he hadn’t blown out a knee on Christmas Day.

Daly’s reason for leaving, given in a UD press release, only seemed to raise more questions than it answered.

While saying his decision wasn’t a reflection of Ingelsby, his teammates or the program, he did say, “for my overall happiness, I feel a change of schools is needed.”

By Friday evening, the message boards were rife with speculation about the reason for Daly’s departure.

And on the Delaware website, Daly’s bio on the 2017-18 roster had already been removed.

Odds & ends

• It was a pretty memorable opening match for first-year Dover High girls’ tennis coach Kevin Papen on Friday.

The Senators knocked off perennial Henlopen Conference power Caesar Rodney, 3-2. That’s believed to be Dover’s first victory over the Riders since 2006.

Papen is the former three-time, first-singles state champion for CR’s boys’ team.

• Smyrna High offensive lineman Saleem Wormley had added an offer from Penn State to his already-impressive collection of major-college football scholarship offers.

The junior already has offers from Notre Dame, West Virginia, Maryland, Pitt, North Carolina and Wake Forest among his stack of about 15 offers so far.

• With spring break starting next weekend, many Henlopen Conference teams have games slated for Monday and Wednesday rather than the usual Tuesday-Thursday schedule.

In baseball, Lake Forest High hosts Dover in its season opener on Monday at 4:15 p.m., Polytech is at Indian River and Smyrna hosts Delmar. Caesar Rodney is at Milford in its conference opener.

• Cape Henlopen High’s baseball team has been ranked No. 47th nationally by Street & Smith in the preseason. The Vikings opened their schedule with a 6-1 win over Sussex Tech on Friday.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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