Domenic Principale has played his fair share of downs on Saturday afternoons in the PSAC since joining the Fighting Scots program back in 2011. The redshirt senior defensive end entered the 2015 season with high expectations for the Edinboro defense, but as for personal goals, Principale is thinking even bigger.
The Williamsville, New York native, who was listed as a USA College Football Division II second-team All-American heading into this season, is seeking to play professional football at the conclusion of his final go-round at Edinboro.
“I’m hoping to finish the season with AllAmerican status, because I do want to play football after this collegiate career and my last year here,” Principale said in an interview this past August at PSAC West football media day in Slippery Rock.
“I would love to play in the CFL, if possible. There have been multiple players that have come out of the PSAC every year to the CFL and a couple that end up going to the NFL.”
As of April 23, 2015, there were 120 players in the National Football League who played at the Division II level and 13 of them played in the PSAC (including three pro bowlers in 2014), according to herosports.com.
Principale, a second-team all-PSAC performer last season, cited opponents from around the conference as tangible evidence that his path to the next level may be attainable. One such player performed at the same position as the former Clarence High School product.
“Last year, we had a great year with guys going to the NFL. [Julian] Howsare (Clarion graduate, now defensive end with the New York Jets), the wide receiver from Shippensburg (Trevor Harman of the Arizona Cardinals), there’s a bunch of guys that have gone,” Principale said.
Hoping to continue his career at the pro level, Principale has used a resource from within the Edinboro program to talk to about the near future.
“I’ve talked to Trevor Harris once or twice about it, but that’s about it. He’s actually been doing really great in the CFL as of late,” Principale said. “He just said it’s all about hard work and continuing to try to achieve your goal.”
Principale, who took a redshirt in 2011, played in 20 games, recording eight starts at defensive end during the span of the following two seasons as he racked up 61 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and three sacks before entering his breakout junior year.
Recording a sack in each of his first six games a year ago, Principale led the team in that category last season and finished eighth in the conference with seven quarterback takedowns.
Principale also recorded 34 tackles, 13 solo stops and was tied for second on the team with 7.5 tackles for loss. He finished with four forced fumbles, good for first in the PSAC and fourth in Division II, while also recovering one of those fumbles.
“Dom Principale, of course, he’s an allconference winner this year,” senior linebacker Mike Shansky said at PSAC West football media day. “Having him in front of me is outstanding; it’s awesome.”
After starting in the first nine games a year ago, Principale’s season was cut short due to an injury during the first quarter of the Slippery Rock game that he described as ‘devastating.’”
“It was more of a freak accident,” he recalled. “I had fallen on my knee and then I was running and it just popped on me in my PCL. It’s fully healed now and I won’t even need a brace, so I’ve been running, training, rehabilitating it all summer [and] really working towards getting back onto the field.”
Although he was disappointed by the injury during last year, Principale entered this season with high expectations due to hard work put in throughout the offseason.
“I’ve been training harder this summer than I ever have in my entire life,” Principale said. “I’m 266 pounds and I have abs. That’s never happened to me before. I’ve been trained by some of the best around that I know. Anyone around me that can help me, I’ve been trying to use them to get myself better.”
One thing Principale wants to avoid during his final season with the Fighting Scots as he plans to move forward is being labeled as a pass rusher by trade. Motivation to show what he can do against the run is something he finds essential to be a better defensive end.
“I’d like to be a well-rounded player,” Principale said. “If you’re not well-rounded, you’re not a good player. If you’re only good at one thing, then you can’t be good on first and second down if they’re running the ball.”
Mike Fenner is a Staff Writer for The Spectator.