Marshall has now had at least one player drafted in seven of the last eight drafts, missing only 2006, and a total of 12 players have been selected since 2000 and 15 total in the lat 15 years, since 1993. That year, Troy Brown was selected in the final (eighth) round by the New England Patriots, just like Bradshaw was taken in the final (seventh) round with the 250th of 255 selections in the 2007 draft. The Thundering Herd now has had a player be a part of 30 of 32 NFL franchises with Bradshaw set to join the Giants, which in over 80 seasons had never before drafted a Marshall player and had only signed the first MU player when Darius Watts joined the franchise after the Denver Broncos released him in mid-season 2006. The only franchises not to have had a Marshall player now are the Houston Texans, who only began playing in the NFL in 2002, and the Tennessee Titans (formerly the Houston Oilers).
Bradshaw was originally signed by the University of Virginia, but never enrolled. The native of Bluefield, Va., stands fifth all-time in school history with 2,987 rushing yards. He trails only college football hall of famer Jackie Hunt, Ron Darby, Doug Chapman and Chris Parker on that prestigious list. In his three years at Marshall he saw action in 32 games and started 22 contests. He rushed 552 times for 2,987 yards (5.4 avg) and 31 touchdowns. He caught 86 passes for 696 yards (8.1 avg) and five scores, adding 118 yards on 11 punt returns (10.7 avg) and 225 yards on 10 kickoff returns (22.5 avg). He recorded seven tackles (six solos) and scored 216 points. He also recorded 4,026 all-purpose yards, an average of 125.8 yards per game.
Bradshaw was the sixth-leading rusher in the nation last season with 1,523 rushing yards (fourth highest total in Marshall history and the most ever in a 12-game season). The 5-foot-11, 195-pound running back led Conference USA with 126.9 yards per game and earned first team All-Conference USA honors. He scored 21 touchdowns, including two TD receptions. Bradshaw fell just one yard short of Marshall's all-time single-game rushing record when he ran for 261 yards against UTEP this season. He also rushed for 242 yards in a win at UAB. Those two single-game performances rank among the top five best in school history.
Also signing free-agent tryouts on Monday and Tuesday after the draft were the following former Herd players:
Quarterback Derek Devine signed by the Seattle Seahawks (after private workouts in his native Oregon);
Offensive tackle Wesley Jones signed with the Washington Redskins;
Middle linebacker Brandon Souder signed with the San Diego Chargers ;
Punter Ian O'conner signed with the Miami Dolphins and;
Nickel/linebacker Dennis Thornton signed with the Green Bay Packers.
Earlier in the draft, former Marshall All-American Randy Moss was dealt from the Oakland Raiders to the New England Patriots, where he will join Brown and the three-time Super Bowl champions. Oakland received a fourth-round pick for Moss, and used that selection to take cornerback John Bowie fromm the University of Cincinnati. While Moss slipped to just 42 catches for 553 yards with the 2-14 Raiders, he is a receiver who had over 1,200 yards receiving in each of his first six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. The six-time All-Pro wide out will renegotiate his contract to join a Pats team that traded receiver Deion Branch to Seattle one game into last season and had wide out David Givens sign with Tennessee as a free agent in this off-season. New England has added receiver Wes Welker in a trade with the Miami Dolphins and signed free agent receivers Donte' Stallworth and Kelley Washington to a team with returners like Brown, Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell.
Former Marshall stars Chad Pennington and Randy Moss, along with McG (director of the movie "We Are…Marshall") lead cheers at the 2006 MU spring game. Behind the trio is Matthew McConaughey, star of the Warner Bros movie. Moss was traded from Oakland to New England on Sunday, April 29. photo by Greg Perry, Herd Insider magazine
Including Bradshaw, Conference USA had a total of eight players, including six offensive standouts, selected in the 2007 NFL Draft, which concluded on Sunday afternoon in New York City. Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb was the first player chosen from a C-USA school, going to the Philadelphia Eagles with the fourth pick of the second round, the 36th overall selection. It also marked the first time since 2003 that a C-USA player was not chosen in the first round. Kolb was the third signal-caller selected in the draft, behind LSU's JaMarcus Russell (Oakland Raiders - No. 1) and Notre Dame's Brady Quinn (Cleveland Browns - No. 22). He finished his career as the most prolific passer in UH history, rewriting almost every passing and total offense records including pass completions (964), pass attempts (1,565), passing yards (12,964), total plays (2,037), total offense (13,715) and touchdowns responsible for (106). Kolb was a consensus selection as the 2006 Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year and a unanimous pick to the All C-USA First Team.
UCF wide receiver Mike Walker was the next C-USA player taken, going just up the road to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round. Walker's third-round selection is the highest for a Knight since Travis Fisher went to the St. Louis Rams in the second round in 2002. He set the UCF single-season record for receptions in 2006 with a league-high 90 catches for 1,178 yards and seven touchdowns. Walker earned first team All-Conference USA honors last season. UTEP wide receiver/kick returner Johnnie Lee Higgins was taken later in the third round by the Oakland Raiders. He closed out his Miner career as the school's all-time leader in receiving yards (3,218) and receiving touchdowns (32). Last season, he earned first team All-Conference USA honors at both wide receiver and kick returner and second team recognition as a punt returner, while being named the league's Special Teams Player of the Year. Higgins ranked second nationally in receiving, averaging 109.9 yards per game and sixth in receptions per game at 6.9. He also ranked third in Division I-A in all-purpose yards (156.1).
Memphis defensive back Brandon McDonald was chosen by the Cleveland Browns with the third pick of the fifth round. McDonald played two seasons for the Tigers and saw action at every secondary position in 2006. He started all but one career game and totaled 133 tackles, 15 pass breakups and seven interceptions in 24 contests. As a junior in 2005, McDonald tied for the lead in Conference USA with 11 pass breakups. Last season, he led the squad in tackles with 84, including 45 solo stops. Following his senior campaign, McDonald was selected as the team's co-Defensive Player of the Year. McDonald was also named to the All-C-USA Media second team and was selected to the All-C-USA third team by the league's coaches. East Carolina wideout Aundrae Allison was taken in the fifth round by the Minnesota Vikings. A two-time All-Conference USA performer, Allison completed his two-year Pirate career with a total of 145 receptions for 1,732 yards, ranking second and third on ECU's all-time receiving lists, respectively. In addition, he recorded seven 100-yard receiving games while only playing in 22 games (all starts). Despite missing a pair of contests because of an ankle injury, Allison still led the Pirates in receptions (62), receiving yards (708) and touchdown catches (4) as a senior in 2006 and helped ECU post its first winning season since 2000 and first bowl berth since 2001.
Herd linebacker Josh Johnson rushed UTEP QB Jordan Palmer in the second half of the game at Marshall last year. Palmer was a sixth-round selection by the Washington Redskins in yesterday's NFL Draft. photo by Greg Perry, HI
SMU defensive end Justin Rogers was selected by the New England Patriots in the sixth round. Rogers becomes the first Mustang to be taken in the NFL Draft since defensive back Kevin Garrett was selected in the fifth round of the 2003 Draft by the St. Louis Rams. In 2006, Rogers helped anchor an SMU defense that ranked No.1 in the conference in rushing defense, sacks and tackles-for-loss. Individually, Rogers ranked second in sacks (9.5) and third in tackles-for-loss (15). He was named first All-Conference USA last season. In the sixth round, Jordan Palmer, the most prolific passer in UTEP history, went to the Washington Redskins. He holds all of the Miners career passing records, including attempts (1,427), completions (851), yards (11,084), passing touchdowns (88) and pass efficiency (136.26). He started 36 consecutive games for UTEP and ranks 23rd in NCAA history in total offense (11,049 yards). Palmer passed for 3,595 yards and 26 touchdowns last season, earning third team All-Conference USA honors.
In NFL Europe news, former Herd standouts in receiver Josh Davis is currently trying to get back to the NFL via the overseas league, playing for the Hamburg (Germany) Sea Devils. Just retiring last week, however, from the Sea Devils was former Herd left tackle Steve Sciullo. Marshall currently has the following players in the National Football league: Chad Pennington, New York Jets; Brown (not currently signed but expected to return to the Pats) and Moss, New England Patriots; John Wade, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Chris Crocker, Atlanta Falcons; Jason Rader, Miami Dolphins; Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville Jaguars; Chris Massey, St. Louis Rams; Jonathan Goddard, Indianapolis Colts; and Watts and Bradshaw with the New York Giants. Chris Hanson was released last week by Jacksonville, but is expected to resign with either the Jags or another team before camps start in July. Mike Bartrum of the Philadelphia Eagles recently announced his retirement after 13 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and the Eagles.