The Indianapolis Colts continue to sign notable undrafted players from the 2022 class. In addition to former Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan, the Colts have also signed a record-setting player from the ACC.
Clemson writer JP Priester of Sports Illustrated reports Indianapolis has signed Clemson Tigers middle linebacker James Skalski.
Over six college seasons, Skalski helped the Tigers win five straight ACC Championships. No other player has won five ACC football championships in history.
Skalski also played in 69 college games, which tied an FBS record.
ALL the latest Colts news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Colts newsletter here!
What James Skalski Brings to the Colts
Unlike the four players general manager Chris Ballard selected on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft, Skalski lacks the physical traits needed to play beyond college according to NFL scouts. But what Skalski doesn’t possess athletically he makes up for with a nasty streak.
“Gritty competitor who has been the heart of the Clemson defense in recent years,” NFL analyst Lance Zierlein of NFL.com wrote. “Skalski has excellent football character and plays hard, but lacks the athletic traits and explosiveness needed on the pro level.
“The intangibles and special teams background could help, but ultimately, it’s unlikely to be enough.”
It wasn’t enough for Skalski to get drafted, but he will receive the opportunity to prove that his competitive nature is enough for the Colts to consider him for a special teams role.
In 69 college games, Skalski recorded 263 total tackles, including 19.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, 18 quarterback hurries and 10 pass breakups. He led Clemson with 90 total tackles in 2021 on his way to an All-ACC selection.
Despite a decorated college career, Skalski did not receive an invite to the NFL Combine. Therefore, the Colts will not only be getting an extreme competitor, but also a very motivated one.
“There was definitely a chip on my shoulder, for sure,” Skalski told Clemson writer Will Vandervort of Sports Illustrated after not receiving an invite to the combine. “I feel like I performed well enough and long enough over a period of time here, where I deserved an invite.”
Going undrafted should only add more fuel for Skalski.
Controversial Plays from James Skalski’s Career
As is the case for a lot of physical players in modern football, Skalski has been at the center of controversial hits in his career. In each of his last two College Football Playoff games, the game’s officiating crew ejected Skalski for targeting.
Clemson went 5-1 in its first six playoff games with Skalski. The Tigers lost the last two when Skalski received his ejections.
While the two ejections started giving Skalski a reputation as a dirty player, at least among rival fans, media personalties and analysts such as Steven A. Smith, Reggie Bush and Dan Orlovsky were on his other side. They and others argued against the targeting ejection in college football.
Rules analyst Dean Blandino of FOX Sports shared his objective thoughts on Skalski’s second ejection during the College Football Playoff matchup on Twitter.
After signing Skalski as an undrafted free agent, the Colts will have the first chance of harnessing the Clemson linebacker’s tenacity and molding it into something useful in the NFL.