Frampton, Bruce, Boyd off to the NFL

ERIC FRAMPTON WAS holding his breath. Mkristo Bruce called it stressful. And Cody Boyd, a week after working out for the Steelers, knew he was going to be headed to Pittsburgh as either a late draft choice or a free agent. All three Cougars are breathing a bit more easily now, knowing where their pro aspirations are taking them.

Eric Frampton, a San Jose native, is headed back to the Bay Area after being picked by the Oakland Raiders with the 28th pick of the fifth round and 165th overall. The 5-11, 204-pound safety was one on two Cougars drafted over the weekend. On Day One, receiver Jason Hill was taken in the third round by his hometown team, the San Francisco 49ers.

Frampton, mild mannered off the field but a head-cracker on it, was surrounded by family and friends Sunday, waiting to hear his name called.

"I was holding my breath the whole draft and I finally get a chance to just let it all out," he said. "Not nervous, just excited," he how he described the wait for the call.

Oakland defensive backs coach Darren Perry spoke with Frampton on Saturday, hinting that the Raiders were very interested in him.

"They want to build a good team," said Frampton, who was first-team All-Pac-10 in 2006. "I have tons of goals that I've written down that I'm looking forward to reaching," Frampton said.

ONE COUGAR MANY of the faithful expected to be drafted was Mkristo Bruce, the 6-6, 268-pound defensive end who earned second-team All-America honors in 2006. Bruce did not hear his name on draft day, but did sign a free agent deal with the Miami Dolphins.

Bruce described his day as, "Really stressful."

"I thought I was going to go in the draft. But it didn't happen, but God's got a plan for me," an optimistic Bruce said.

Bruce will join a Miami defense that features a Pro Bowl player whom he has always admired.

"Best thing is I get to go in (to Miami) and learn from Jason Taylor, who is my favorite player," Bruce mentioned. "I get to pick his brains."

The Dolphins informed Bruce that they were debating whether to use their final draft pick on him or 6-2, 242-pound Abraham Wright. They chose Wright, who played defensive end at Colorado but projects as a linebacker.

"They said that they really like my style of play and I have the perfect body to play in their 3-4 defense," Bruce said.

The fact he went undrafted will motivate Bruce immensely. His goal is "to go in there and work as hard as I can to show everybody that I was a draftable player."

THE STEELERS, MEANWHILE, nabbed Cody Boyd, who also signed a free agent deal Sunday after the draft.

Boyd, the 6-8, 260-pound tight end from Ferndale took a trip to Pittsburgh a week ago and learned that the Steelers had interest in picking him late in the draft. During the draft, the Steelers phoned Boyd to let him know they were still interested.

In the end, the Steelers opted to offer Boyd a free agent deal, and the former Cougar signed the deal late Sunday afternoon.

PRO NOTE: Late word Sunday was that offensive tackle Charles Harris signed with Tennessee. Look for other Cougars, and notably cornerback Tyron Brackenridge, to sign free agent deals in the coming days.

CODY BOYD: All-Pac-10 honorable mention in 2006 after catching 32 passes for 481 yards and two TDs.

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