Two former Fox Valley Conference players appear to have made their respective NFL teams’ rosters for the start of the season.
Crystal Lake South graduate Dennis Gardeck, a linebacker, was on Arizona’s 53-man roster Saturday after cuts from 90 players were made. McHenry East graduate Robert Tonyan, a tight end, has made Green Bay’s roster. Tonyan will be a teammate with Marian Central graduate Bryan Bulaga, the Packers' right tackle who is starting his ninth NFL season.
Gardeck and Tonyan were long shots as undrafted players. Tonyan (6-foot-5, 248 pounds) had experience with Detroit’s practice squad last year learning the tight end position. He was a quarterback at McHenry and moved to wide receiver at Indiana State. He is smaller than most tight ends, but his speed gives him an advantage.
Tonyan signed with Green Bay in December and has been working out with the team since then. The Packers also might use Tonyan as an H-back, blocking out of the backfield for running backs.
Gardeck played his college football at the NCAA Division II level, three years at West Virginia State and one at Sioux Falls (South Dakota). He signed with the Cardinals after April’s NFL draft because his brother, Ian, was working out in Arizona with Cardinals physical therapist Brett Fischer. Ian is a pitcher in the San Francisco Giants’ organization working his way back from 2016 Tommy John surgery. Ian Gardeck is with the Giants’ Double-A affiliate Richmond Flying Squirrels.
Dennis Gardeck had an impressive Pro Day workout last year when he displayed his speed and put up 31 repetitions at 225 pounds in the bench press. He is seen as a player who could benefit the Cardinals on special teams.
It has been a banner year for local athletes getting shots at the big time. Prairie Ridge graduates Nick Martini (Oakland Athletics) and Kevin Kaczmarski (New York Mets) were promoted to the major leagues this summer. Martini is in the middle of a playoff race with the A’s, while Kaczmarski is back at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Crystal Lake Central graduate Connor Sadzeck, a hard-throwing right-hander, recently was called up to the Texas Rangers.