Vaccaro Goes 15th To Saints

Kenny Vaccaro was selected 15th by the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night, making him the 16th first-round pick in Mack Brown's tenure at Texas.

"I am excited," Vaccaro said. "The Saints were my last visit, and I had a good feeling about it. I am ready to do whatever the Saints want me to do.

"This was such a great night, and I'm so excited to be a Saint. New Orleans is a great franchise with passionate fans like Texas, and it's still close to my family. This is just the beginning. Now I have to keep working hard and get to New Orleans and make an impact. It's an honor to be picked and join all the great DBs from DBU in the NFL. I can't thank Coach [Mack] Brown, Coach [Duane] Akina and everyone at Texas [enough] for helping me so much along the way. They prepared me for this opportunity."

Vaccaro did a little bit of everything for the Longhorns a year ago, playing high, playing in the nickel and even dropping down into almost a linebacker role to take some pressure off an inexperienced linebacking corps. He led the Longhorns in tackles with 107 last year, with four of those coming in the backfield. He also picked off two passes and forced two fumbles.

"I have been grinding my whole life, literally since I was four years old for this opportunity, and it is finally here," Vaccaro said. "Earl Thomas told me to come in, have a chip on my shoulder and put an impact on this league. [He said], ‘Don't just sit around and wait for someone else to take your job.' I am excited. The Saints were my last visit, and I had a good feeling about it. I am ready to do whatever the Saints want me to do.

"It was awesome having my family here with me," Vaccaro said. "I got chills when I looked at my mom after my name was called. We've been through so much, and she's been there for me all the way. It was special to share the moment with her and my family. Having Coach [Duane] Akina there, also, was extra special. He's coached so many great DBs and for him to be here on this day to support me and my family meant a lot to me."

For his efforts, Vaccaro earned a bevy of honors as a senior, including a first-team All-American mention from Pro Football Weekly, as well as first-team All-Big 12 honors in each of his last two seasons. He is now Texas's 10th top-20 pick in the last 10 years.

"Kenny Vaccaro is one of the best football players we have ever had," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "He is tough, he's smart, he's a playmaker and he practiced like he was in a game everyday. He is very passionate about football. He brings leadership and he brings toughness. "

Vaccaro makes the Longhorns' 12th defensive back in the NFL, more than any other school.

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