USF had a very nice 2011 class with three former Bulls hearing their names called over the weekend. It all started Friday night when the Carolina Panthers picked DT Terrell McClain with the 1st pick of the 3rd Round. McClain and Stanford DT Sione Fua were both need picks for the Panthers, who were extremely thin at the position. New Coach Ron Rivera sees both players as cornerstones for their high pressure defense,
"We needed a couple of space-eaters, guys that take up blocks, command doubles and let our linebackers play downhill," Rivera said. "The thing that gives you the biggest edge is to play downhill, to attack and make plays at the point of attack. I didn't feel like that was something we did well last season; the linebackers were playing sideways and backwards. This gives us an opportunity to get our guys attacking the line of scrimmage."
"I said well the next team that was really after me was the Panthers. So I was just looking around to see when they had another selection, and it happened to be the first pick in the third round and I said, ‘Ok, well, I’m going to have a chance.’ And they ended up calling me."
USF had to wait until the 6th round to hear another former Bull's name called, but when Minnesota selected DB Mistral Raymond, it made all the hard work and sacrifices worth it,
"I know what I've gone through. When it happened, I kind of flashed back to all the years, and it made it surreal. I feel great. This is a match made in heaven. It's very special for me. Words can't express this journey."
"When I was up for the visit we talked primarily about corner but I know that if there was a need or interest in me playing safety that wouldn’t be an issue for me. It’s something I feel comfortable with. I’m definitely looking forward to playing the cornerback position first, definitely looking forward to getting some snaps at nickel inside a little bit. Like I said, if they need me to move back to safety that is something that I would be open to doing."
It wasn't long after Raymond's name was called that the New York Giants selected LB Jacquain Williams with the 202nd pick. Greg Auman was able to get a hold of Williams after the draft, and Jacquian was excited to be reunited with former teammate Jason Pierre-Paul,
"(Giants GM Jerry Krauss) said to me, 'I'm going to get you up there with Jason Pierre-Paul for a visit, try to get you all to play together again.'. "I told him I'd love that."
For Williams, he will be used more as a Special Teams player at first but I don't think he cares,
"Just to be in the NFL, that's what we all dream of. To have a chance to provide for my family and do what I love, it's overwhelming to be able to do that."
Congrats to the three of you. We hope you guys have a successful career at the next level.