Seven members of Clemson's 2004 football team will have a chance to play at the next level. Former Tigers Justin Miller, Leroy Hill and Airese Currie were all selected in the NFL draft held over the weekend and four more members of the team have signed free agent contracts within the last two days.
Miller was taken in the second round, the 57th pick of the
draft, by the New York Jets. The cornerback who entered the NFL
draft after his junior year, was the first Clemson player drafted by
the Jets in 27 years. Roy Epps, a safety on the 1977 Clemson team,
was selected in the eighth round by the Jets in 1978. The last
former Tiger to play for the Jets was Jim Bundren, an offensive
tackle and center who played with that franchise in 1998.
Miller had 54 tackles and three interceptions this past
season for the Tigers. He also led the nation in kickoff return
average with a 33.1 figure and was 21st in punt returns with a 13.0
figure. Miller was a second-team All-American as a kick returner
and was named second-team All-ACC as a defensive back. He leaves
Clemson with a 30.7 career average in kickoff returns, the best in
ACC history and the fourth best in NCAA history.
Hill was selected in the third round of the draft by the
Seattle Seahawks, the 98th pick overall. The senior linebacker from
Haddock, GA is the sixth former Tiger in history to be drafted by the
Seahawks, the first since Anthony Simmons was taken in the first
round of the 1998 draft. Simmons just finished his seventh season
with the club as a linebacker.
Hill was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and he
led the Tigers in tackles with 106, including 19 for loss and eight
sacks. He ranked in the top 15 in the nation in tackles for loss
and sacks on a per game basis. Hill continued Clemson's tradition
of outstanding linebackers as he is the sixth Tiger linebacker in the
last eight years to be selected in the NFL draft. He played in both
the Senior Bowl and the East-West All-Star Game and was named the
Defensive MVP for the South team for the Senior Bowl.
Currie was a fifth round selection, the 140th pick of the
entire draft, by the Chicago Bears. The senior wide receiver from
Columbia, SC is the 12th former Tiger to be drafted by the Bears,
the first since Stacy Long was an 11th round pick in 1991. The Bears
have a history of former Tigers on the team, including the 1985 Super
Bowl Championship team that included former Tiger quarterback Steve
Fuller and former Clemson middle guard William Perry. Former Clemson
All-American Donnell Woolford also played for the Bears.
Currie led the ACC in receptions with 61 and in reception
yards with 868. He was the first Clemson receiver to lead the ACC
in both categories and earn first team All-ACC since Perry Tuttle did
it in 1980. Like Hill, Currie played in the Senior Bowl this past
season, and was named Clemson's MVP on offense.
Percentages are in favor of the three Tigers who were
drafted. Since 1990, 32 of the 35 Clemson players who have been
drafted within the first five rounds, have made an NFL team. The
odds are especially high for Miller and Hill, as each of the last 23
Clemson players who have been taken within the first 100 selections
of the draft have made an NFL roster.
Four Tigers, two offensive players and two defensive players,
signed free agent contracts over the last two days. Vontrell
Jamison, who was physically able to play in just three games this
past year due to an injury, signed with the St. Louis Rams. Eric
Coleman, an honorable mention All-ACC defensive tackle who finished
the year with 46 tackles, including five sacks, signed with the
Minnesota Vikings. Starting tight end Ben Hall, the only tight end
in Clemson history to catch at least on touchdown pass in four
different seasons, signed with the Tennessee Titans. Cedric
Johnson, a starting offensive guard the last three years, signed with
the Kansas City Chiefs.
Seven Tigers Headed to the NFL
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