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Last chance is a dream for Scirrotto

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Anthony Scirrotto could not ignore the signs that his dream of playing professional football could go unfulfilled.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Anthony Scirrotto could not ignore the signs that his dream of playing professional football could go unfulfilled.

When NFL teams stopped calling about workouts, the former Penn State safety moved on with his life. He started working for his father's construction company. He helped coach the football program at his old high school, West Deptford. Then he enrolled at Temple to finish course work for his Penn State degree.

"I had my doubts, especially because I went a long time without having a workout or even a look," the 23-year-old Scirrotto said. "And then my agent called me and said this could be my last opportunity."

The call came Sunday. It was the Eagles, the team Scirrotto grew up following. In need of a safety, the team worked out the former all-Big Ten Conference player on Monday. The Eagles signed him that evening to a one-year deal.

"It's pretty much like a childhood dream for me," Scirrotto said Tuesday after his first practice in Eagles green. "This was my favorite team as a kid. I've been to games every year since I was 10 years old."

Scirrotto is a long way from making the team, but he still has one year of practice-squad eligibility remaining, which could be his best chance at hanging on. Quintin Mikell and Nate Allen are the starting safeties. Either Quintin Demps or Kurt Coleman will be the third safety, and there's a chance both could make the 53-man roster.

Undrafted in 2009, Scirrotto was picked up by Carolina. Hampered by a hamstring injury, he was released just before training camp. He had another option in sports, having been drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 50th round of the 2009 draft, even though he hadn't played organized baseball in four years.

"This is my first priority - football," Scirrotto said. "It's the sport I've loved the most since I've been in high school and youth programs. Baseball is a great opportunity, but it's pretty much the backup plan of backup plans."

Scirrotto found his way onto the New York Giants' practice squad in late November last year but lasted only a week. But he stayed in football shape despite the long odds.

It wasn't supposed to be this way for Scirrotto, who was projected to be an early-round draft pick as a pitcher and shortstop coming out of West Deptford. Some questioned his decision to go to Penn State and play football, but after his stellar sophomore season, Scirrotto's draft stock was rising.

But then on April 1, 2007, Scirrotto was involved in a much-publicized incident in which more than a dozen Penn State players entered a downtown State College apartment to pursue three men who allegedly had assaulted Scirrotto and his girlfriend.

Scirrotto was charged with a number of crimes but ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of trespassing and served a year of probation.

"That's so long ago I don't remember half of it," Scirrotto said.

On the field, he wasn't the same player. Scirrotto admitted that his sophomore film was better than that in his last two years, but he said it had more to do with his role of playing center field in the secondary as opposed to playing closer to the box.

Now he hopes to catch on where two former Penn State teammates - center A.Q. Shipley and wide receiver Jordan Norwood - hope to do the same.

"I just love being around the guys," Scirrotto said. "I love being in this atmosphere. And I just love this game."