GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers have five quarterbacks on their roster with the addition of Jake Dolegala, ensuring they likely will have four for the starting of training camp late next month.
Dolegala, an undrafted free agent out of Central Connecticut in 2019, took part in all three minicamp practices as a tryout player.
Defensive lineman Anthony Rush was not on the practice field on Thursday and was released to create the roster space, a source confirmed.
He joins Aaron Rodgers, who held out of minicamp in his dispute with the franchise, 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love, veteran addition Blake Bortles and young journeyman Kurt Benkert.
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In four collegiate seasons at the FCS school, Dolegala completed 57.6 percent of his passes for 8,129 yards with 48 touchdowns vs. 29 interceptions. He added 452 rushing yards. While he threw for a career-high 2,924 yards as a sophomore, his best season came as a senior, when he completed 61.0 percent of his throws for 2,221 yards with 16 touchdowns vs. six interceptions.
“We didn't just drop him back in the pocket and let him throw it. He ran zone-read concepts; he ran option,” Central Connecticut coach Ryan McCarthy said before the 2019 draft. “He became a viable ball carrier for us. You wouldn't say he's fast, but it's amazing when we look back and see how many explosive runs he had — I'm talking runs over 12 yards — and he counted for a lot of those runs. The progression he made from junior year to senior year was very, very large.”
He wasn’t drafted but signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, due in part to the presence of quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, a former Packers assistant. In the preseason, he completed 69.8 percent of his passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 100.1, to make the roster.
“I just went nuts,” Dolegala told The Buffalo News. “It was a very exciting moment. I tried to keep my cool on the phone, but I was obviously excited and I called my parents right after and they went insane.”
He spent all 16 games of his rookie season on the active roster, getting into one game. The Bengals, who had used the No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 draft on Joe Burrow, released him at the end of training camp last summer. He spent most of the 2020 season on New England’s practice squad but was released after the 2021 draft. He auditioned with the Atlanta Falcons at their rookie camp but was not signed.
It's been quite a path for a quarterback who suffered a shoulder injury so severe as a senior in high school that it took him four months to regain the strength to throw a football 10 yards.
“From being a Division I scholarship guy to being overlooked by D-III schools, it was devastating,” Dolegala told The Hartford Courant, “but I didn’t let that stop me. Central gave me a chance.”
His grandfather, Al Bemiller, was an All-American at Syracuse, a seventh-round draft choice by the AFL’s Buffalo Bills in 1961, a 1965 Pro Bowler and 123-game starter at center and right guard in nine professional seasons.
“He remembers everything from back in the day,” Dolegala told The Courant. “His dementia from CTE is starting to set in, but the stories he has are unbelievable and he tells them so well. My grandfather is near and dear to my heart. He was such an influence on me growing up, I always had a role model in him, I tried to do everything I could to follow his footsteps. He always told me I had the size for it, and as long as I worked for it there was no reason I couldn’t follow in his footsteps.”