Barber Leads Gophers In Draft

While running back Marion Barber had to wait longer than he hoped to be selected in the NFL draft, six other Gophers had to settle for rookie free-agent deals.

The Dallas Cowboys selected University of Minnesota running back Marion Barber III with the eighth pick (109th overall selection) of the fourth round on the second day of the 70th annual National Football League Draft Sunday. Barber III is the highest-drafted Gopher running back since Darrell Thompson was the 19th overall selection of the first round in the 1990 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. Barber III follows in the footsteps of his father, Marion Barber Jr., who also played running back for the Gophers (1977-80) and was drafted in the second round of the 1981 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.

Barber's selection marks the highest a Gopher player has been drafted since defensive end Karon Riley was taken with the 103rd overall pick of the fourth round in 2001 by the Chicago Bears. He is the 14th Gopher to be chosen in the NFL Draft since Glen Mason became head coach in 1997. This also marks the seventh time in the past eight seasons under Mason that the Gophers have had a player selected in the NFL Draft. Barber becomes the second running back drafted from Minnesota in the past two years, following former teammate Thomas Tapeh, who was selected by Philadelphia in the fifth round of the 2004 NFL Draft. Barber is the first Minnesota player drafted by Dallas since defensive back Mike White was chosen by the Cowboys in the ninth round of the 1973 NFL Draft.

Barber finished his collegiate career as one of the best running backs in Minnesota history. He ranks third on the school's career rushing chart with 3,276 yards despite missing almost the entire 2002 season and his 35 career rushing touchdowns rank second on the school's all-time list. The Plymouth, Minn., native ranks third in career 100-yard rushing games (14), third in career rushing average (5.7 ypc) and seventh in career scoring (210 points) in school history. Barber also ranks fourth all-time in career punt return yards (515).

In 2004, Barber tallied a career-high 1,269 yards on 231 carries with 11 touchdowns and joined sophomore Laurence Maroney as the first pair of teammates to each rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. Barber's 1,269 yards rank seventh all-time in school history for single-season yardage and his 11 rushing touchdowns tie for sixth all-time for single-season touchdowns. Barber recorded his first 1,000-yard season in 2003, when he rushed for 1,196 yards and set the school's single-season rushing touchdown record with 17.

Six other Gophers signed free agent contracts at the conclusion of the NFL Draft. Cornerback Ukee Dozier, safety Justin Fraley and offensive tackle Rian Melander all inked deals with the Minnesota Vikings, but Fraley and Dozier ended up signing elsewhere later. Wide receiver Paris Hamilton signed with the Detroit Lions, placekicker Rhys Lloyd signed with Baltimore Ravens and defensive end Darrell Reid joined the Indianapolis Colts.

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