Thirteen Players with C-USA Ties Taken in 2013 NFL Draft
April 27, 2013
Five standouts that played in Conference USA during the 2012 season were among the first 59 players taken in the 2013 National Football League Draft, which concluded Saturday evening. A total of 13 players with C-USA ties, including eight that were in the league last fall, were selected.
Houston DB D.J. Hayden was the first player selected, going to the Oakland Raiders in the first round at No. 12 overall. Four C-USA players taken in a 10-pick stretch of the second round, beginning with Southern Miss LB Jamie Collins, who went to the New England Patriots at No. 52 overall.
The five selections in the first two rounds are the most in league history. The previous high was two first rounders and two second rounders in 2002.
Additionally, safety Johnathan Cyprien of future C-USA member FIU opened the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft when he was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the opening pick of the second round (No. 33 overall).
Hayden's selection at No. 12 overall marks the second-highest that a C-USA player has ever been selected. Memphis DL Dontari Poe was chosen at No. 11 by the Kansas City Chiefs last year.
After suffering an injury that is 95 percent fatal and had never been seen before in football, Hayden was released from Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston after just six days, much sooner than the expected six weeks originally expected by medical professionals.
Prior to his injury that forced him to miss the final three games of the 2012 season, Hayden recorded four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, and eight pass breakups en route to being named first team All-Conference USA. In his two years at Houston, after transferring from Navarro Junior College, Hayden accumulated 127 tackles, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 19 pass break ups and 16 interceptions
Last season, Collins earned Conference USA first-team honors and led the team in tackles with 92 and also ranked first in C-USA in tackles for loss (20.0) and third in sacks (10.0), which both rank fifth on the school's single-season chart. His tackles for loss number ranked No. 7 in the country, while his sack total was 21st nationally. The Golden Eagle defensive end forced four fumbles during the campaign, which ranks tied for 3rd on the school's single-season chart and holds a 5th-place tie on the school's career chart with seven fumbles forced with Rod Davis (2000-03).
Taken with the next pick in the second round and 53rd overall by the Cincinnati Bengals, SMU DE Margus Hunt is the highest pick from the Hilltop since Rod Jones and Reggie Dupard were selected 25th and 26th overall, respectively, in the 1986 NFL Draft. As a senior in 2012, Hunt was named MVP of the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and first-team All-Conference USA. In his final collegiate game, Hunt notched two sacks and three TFL, forcing two fumbles that led to field goals and recording one sack for a safety. On the year, he played in all 13 games, making 12 starts and leading SMU with eight sacks and 11 QB hurries. He broke the NCAA career record when he blocked his ninth career FGA early in the year and added another FGA block at UTEP. In his career, Hunt blocked 10 FGAs and seven PATs. Following the season, Hunt earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
Rice TE Vance McDonald was the 55th overall selection in this year's draft, the highest selection of an Owl since Bert Emanuel was taken by Atlanta with the 45th overall selection in 1994. Taken by defending NFC Champion San Francisco, McDonald was a consensus All C-USA selection after catching 36 passes for 458 yards and two touchdowns despite missing three games late in his senior season. He ranks sixth all-time with 119 catches, seventh on the Rice career list with 1,504 receiving yards and tied for fifth with 15 career touchdown receptions. McDonald returned from his midseason injury to catch 16 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown in the last two regular season games, including a career-high nine vs. UTEP as the Owls clinched a berth in the Armed Forces Bowl.
Marshall WR Aaron Dobson became the second player drafted by the New England Patriots, going at pick No. 59. Dobson, a second team selection by the league's coaches last season, was seventh in the league in catches per game (5.7) and receiving yards (67.9). He finished his career with 24 touchdown receptions, tying former NFL star Troy Brown for fourth in the school's all-time records. A captain on last year's team, the Biletnikoff Award Watch List wideout missed virtually all of two games due to injury, but that didn't stop him from setting a career-high with 57 catches this season. For his career, he finished ninth in the school's all-time record book with 2,398 receiving yards and will attend this year's Senior Bowl.
Luke Willson of Rice was chosen by the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round, becoming the second Owls tight end to be selected in this year's draft. He played in his 45th and final game as an Owl in the Armed Forces Bowl victory over Air Force. Despite a pair of nagging injuries, Willson played in 11 of 13 games in 2013 and caught nine passes for 124 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He showcased his skills by catching three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. He was named one of the captains of the 2012 team and completed his career with 78 catches for 986 yards and nine touchdowns.
UCF RB Latavius Murray was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the sixth round, while Knights S Kemal Ishmael was taken by the Atlanta Falcons in the seventh round.
Murray wrapped up his senior season with 1,106 rushing yards on 198 carries, posting 15 rushing touchdowns in the process. All-time in Black and Gold, Murray was second in UCF history in overall touchdowns (44), eighth in attempts (453), sixth in yards (2,424) and third in rushing touchdowns (37). As a receiver, Murray hauled in 50 passes for 524 yards and six touchdowns in his career. That included 27 receptions in 2012. He also had a 69-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at Southern Miss during his junior campaign.
Ishmael started 49-straight games at free safety for the Knights, culminating his career as the 2012 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year. The Jim Thorpe Award Watch List member finished his time in Orlando as UCF's all-time top tackler among defensive backs, and ranked third overall with 368 tackles. In 2012 alone, Ishmael had 124 tackles, which was good for ninth in single-season history. In all, Ishmael played in 53 games with six forced fumbles, six recoveries, 13 passes defended and six interceptions.
CONFERENCE USA'S 2013 NFL DRAFTEES
Round No. (Overall) Player Pos. C-USA School NFL Team First 12 (12) D.J. Hayden DB Houston Oakland Raiders Second 1 (33) Johnathan Cyprien S FIU* Jacksonville Jaguars Second 20 (52) Jamie Collins LB Southern Miss New England Patriots Second 21 (53) Margus Hunt DT SMU Cincinnati Bengals Second 23 (55) Vance McDonald TE Rice San Francisco 49ers Second 27 (59) Aaron Dobson WR Marshall New England Patriots Fourth 31 (132) Quinton Patton WR Louisiana Tech* San Francisco 49ers Fifth 13 (146) Quanterus Smith DE Western Kentucky* Denver Broncos Fifth 25 (158) Luke Willson TE Rice Seattle Seahawks Sixth 30 (163) Jordan Mills OT Louisiana Tech* Chicago Bears Sixth 11 (179) Tourek Williams DE FIU* San Diego Chargers Sixth 13 (181) Latavius Murray RB UCF Oakland Raiders Seventh 37 (243) Kemal Ishmael S UCF Atlanta Falcons
*future C-USA member