DeCosta '93 hits the NFL
Eric DeCosta ’93 summed things up in one short sentence: “[Colby] is not Oklahoma.” DeCosta, the Baltimore Ravens’ Director of Player Personnel, was referring to the difficulty of parlaying his small school football experience into a big-time job. He has made a habit, though, of overcoming his diminutive stature to achieve success.
A native of Taunton, Mass. and graduate of Taunton High School, DeCosta had Ivy League and Division I-AA football aspirations. But as is the case for so many who have hopes of playing high-level football, size was an issue. DeCosta was considered too small to be competitive at the level at which he had hoped to play, so he shifted his focus to New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) schools. “I went up to Colby, and really, quite honestly, was [very] impressed with the campus and the facilities.” He went on to play outside linebacker for the Colby football teams of the early 1990s, becoming a three-year letterman and captain. DeCosta earned the Millett Award for his outstanding athletic contributions to the Colby community.
A graduate of the class of 1993, the English and Classic Civilizations double major received dean’s list honors from 1990-1992 and eventually earned a master’s degree in English. DeCosta’s academic and athletic success were not unrelated. Football coach Ed Mestieri said that DeCosta possessed “an intuitive ability for the game” and praised his aptitude in understanding play-calling schemes.
After Colby, DeCosta earned a graduate fellowship at Trinity College, where he also worked as an assistant football coach. During his time at Trinity, DeCosta scored an internship with the Washington Redskins. He said of his time in Washington, “I didn’t make any money there, but it was a great experience for me. I made some great contacts.” DeCosta made a positive, lasting impression while he was in Washington. Charley Casserly, the former General Manager of the Redskins, said that DeCosta “was a hard-working guy with a lot of enthusiasm” who “was intense about getting his work done.”
One of the contacts that DeCosta made in Washington was Scott Pioli, who was working in the Cleveland Browns front office when he called DeCosta to offer him a job in 1996 (Pioli is now the General Manager of the Kansas City Chiefs). At that time, the Browns were transitioning into becoming the Baltimore Ravens. DeCosta landed a job in the scouting department. He was given plenty of responsibility because of the move. “I was able to do a lot of stuff because of the transition with the move,’’ DeCosta said. “We had a small staff, and [I was] 25 years old and [got] to work with a lot of unbelievable people,” many of whom went on to become head coaches in the National Football League (NFL).
DeCosta quickly moved up the scouting ladder, and soon played a large role in the Ravens’ drafts, which are annually regarded as some of the best in the NFL. In January 2009, he was promoted to Director of Player Personnel, where he has more authority in crafting Baltimore’s roster. Whenever a General Manager job becomes available, his name surfaces in the rumor mill. DeCosta says that his Colby experience gave him the confidence he needed to become such an important figure in the NFL front-office world. The undersized linebacker has emerged from relative football obscurity to become one of the industry’s most influential figures.