2006 Football's senior class making mark on and off the gridiron
Whether it's Aaron Ross, a first-round draft choice of the New York Giants, or Neale Tweedie, a UT graduate assistant coach finishing his master's degree, the members of last year's Texas Football senior class are active and contributing.
Ross, a cover corner for the Longhorns who also excelled as a punt returner, earned the Giants' interest because of his speed, hands, judgment and "second gear." The Giants saw him as someone who could provide instant support to a secondary not earning much praise way Off-Broadway in the Big Apple.
A hamstring problem sidelined Ross at the outset of camp -- he missed the initial Giants' exhibition game -- and was behind, according to Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who will have patience as his rookie catches up.
Also working as NFL rookies are Tarell Brown of the San Francisco 49ers (who had a solid preseason and will play in nickel situations; he received the team's Herriod Award which is presented each season to a rookie or first-year player that best represents the dream of former player Thomas Herrion), Brian Robison of the Minnesota Vikings, and Tim Crowder and Selvin Young of the Denver Broncos.
At the end of training camp, Brown was awarded the Thomas Herrion Award by the 49ers. Team owners Denise and John York established the award in 2005, which is presented each season to a rookie or first-year player that best represents the dream of Thomas Herrion. The award goes to a player, like Thomas, who has taken advantage of every opportunity, turned it into a positive situation and made their dream turn into reality.
Defensive end Crowder was a second-round draft choice of the Broncos (No. 56 overall), while Young came to Denver as a free agent. Crowder is listed No. 2 at left defensive end, while Young is a backup at running back.
In Nashville, cornerback Michael Griffin, No. 8 all-time in tackles (364) in his career at Texas, is second team at right cornerback for the Titans, who feature a most famous Texas Ex -- Vince Young.
Lyle Sendlein, who started 49 games (26 straight) at center for the Longhorns, is a backup for the Arizona Cardinals, his hometown club. (Sendlein is a Scottsdale native.)
UT linemate Kasey Studdard, who started 45 games (38 straight) for the Horns, was a sixth-round draft choice of the Houston Texans -- the 183rd overall pick in last spring's NFL Draft. He was second-string left guard behind Texans veteran Chester Pitts.
Tackle Justin Blalock, a second-round draft choice (39th pick overall) of the Atlanta Falcons whose 51 consecutive starts is a UT record, has called the move to the NFL from college "a good challenge."
Blalock, who started for the Falcons in an exhibition game against Buffalo, was one of four Falcons' rookies to start that game. He since earned his starting job for the Falcons' season opener against Minnesota.
"I always have been a hard worker, so I think that will help me succeed in the NFL," Blalock told AtlantaFalcons.com. "I pick up things pretty quickly and I think that will help me get to where I want to be. Texas did a very good job of preparing me."
Along with Tweedie, Matt Melton is another student coach this fall. Melton actually delayed his graduation -- he will get his degree in December.
Mark McCoy, who graduated with a degree in communications, is working in the oil business in Fort Worth, while Matt McCoy is completing his degree in sports management this fall.
Adair Fragaso is working in the entertainment industry following his graduation in music and Marcus Myers works in Austin following his degree in economics.
Clayton Tefteller graduated in radio, TV and film, while Brett Valdez got his education degree and is with a financial group in Round Rock.