Siddeeq Shabazz Taken In NFL Draft

The Oakland Raiders took New Mexico native and former New Mexico State walk-on football player Siddeeq Shabazz in the seventh round of the 2003 NFL Draft.

Siddeeq Shabazz, a native of Chaparral and a graduate of Gadsden High School, became the first New Mexico State football player taken in the NFL Draft since running back Chris Barnes was taken by the Baltimore Ravens in the fifth round of the 2001 draft.

Shabazz got the news at a family gathering Sunday afternoon.

"That was probably the most excited I've ever been," said Shabazz. "I was confident that I was going to get drafted. As the day progressed, I was getting scared. It brought tears to my eyes. It was very exciting for me and my family."

Shabazz, who graduated last December with a degree in Business Management, will reunite with former Aggie teammate and current Raider Tony Lukins.

"Tony has really been a big help to me," said Shabazz. "I'll already have somebody there to help me learn the ropes. He's the one that kind of opened the door for me."

Lukins, a second team all-conference defensive back for the Aggies in 2001, is a graduate of El Paso Andress High School and was signed to the Raiders practice squad late last season. He is currently playing for the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe.

"He has the speed, the toughness and the quickness," said Aggie head coach Tony Samuel. "He just has to learn the trade. Physically he can do it. Now he just has to do what he normally does, work hard."

Samuel, who is beginning his seventh season at New Mexico State, is especially proud of Shabazz because of how far he has come.

"He did it all at New Mexico State," said Samuel. "He took it from being a walk-on to being drafted in the NFL. He's a great kid. He is the true picture of getting the most out of what you've got."

Shabazz will travel to Oakland Thursday to take part in a rookie-free agent camp. "I just have to go out there and work my hardest," said Shabazz. "I just have to go out there and be myself. That's all I can do."

Shabazz was a first team all-Sun Belt Conference pick the last two seasons. In 2001, Shabazz tied for the Sun Belt Conference lead in tackles with 107 and registered two interceptions. This year he had 93 tackles and two interceptions.

Fittingly, Shabazz intercepted a pass against Idaho to seal the Aggies 35-31 win in his final play as a collegiate football player

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