Gano, Ellerbe, Riley headline undrafted class

OWINGS MILLS -- Immediately after the conclusion of the NFL draft, the Baltimore Ravens acquired a strong candidate for the starting kicker position. The Ravens have struck a verbal agreement with Florida State kicker Graham Gano, according to his agent. Gano is the Lou Groza Award winner as the nation's top kicker.

As soon as the draft ended, Ravens special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg called Gano and informed him that he's slated to compete with Steve Hauschka for the job openig created when Baltimore didn't re-sign veteran Matt Stover.

Gano, who converted 24 of 26 field goals last season and was also the Seminoles' starting punter for three seasons, was hoping to be drafted in the seventh round by the Chicago Bears.

The Ravens also agreed to terms with highly regarded University of Georgia linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, according to his agent.

Ellerbe led the Bulldogs with 93 tackles as a junior and was ranked among the top 150 draft prospects by several draft analysts, but had a bad senior year with just 33 tackles due to a knee injury that hampered his playing time.

Also, Ellerbe was charged with driving under the influence three years ago when he crashed a teammate's car into a tree on campus. However, he settled the case through a plea bargain with prosecutors.

Ellerbe was originally charged with felony charge of car theft, but it was throw out. He pleaded guilty to underage possession of alcohol while driving, reckless driving and unlawful use of a license. Suspended for three games by Georgia coach Mark Richt, but hasn't been in trouble ever since.

The Ravens also agreed to terms with at least eight other players, according to their respective agents and college sports information departments. The deals aren't finalized until the player passes a physical and signs a contract.

Baltimore didn't draft a wide receiver, but has reached a deal with second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference wide receiver Eron Riley.

Riley, who has run the 40-yard dash in 4.29 seconds, caught 61 passes for 693 yards and eight touchdowns last season. For his career, the 6-foot-3, 208-pounder has caught 144 career passes for 2,413 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Continuing the local connections, University of Maryland wide receiver Isaiah Williams is expected to sign with Baltimore, according to Terrapins athletic department officials. Williams caught 64 career passes for 902 yards and five touchdowns.

Ravens first-round offensive tackle Michael Oher's Ole Miss teammate, bruising, 5-11, 245-pound fullback Jason Cook, is also headed to Baltimore.

The University of Buffalo announced that record-setting quarterback Drew Willy will sign with Baltimore. Willy is the school's all-time leading passer, leading his team to a Mid-American Conference title and a berth in the International Bowl.

A 6-3, 215-pounder, Willy passed for 8,748 career yards, 52 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.

The Ravens also agreed to terms with offensive lineman Greg Ryan (Western Kentucky), defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg (Minnesota) and defensive tackle Will Johnson (Michigan). VanDeSteeg registered 10 1/2 sacks last season and recorded a school-record 43 1/2 tackles for losses. Johnson bench pressed 225 pounds a staggering 47 times during NFL testing.

"It's hard to put into words how good this feels and it really hasn't even sunk in yet," Ryan said in a statement. "Everybody dreams of playing in the NFL. It's up to me to take advantage of this opportunity."

NOTE: Ravens offensive tackle Jared Gaither, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal and established himself as the replacement for retired All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden in 15 starts last season, has fired his agent and hired Drew Rosenhaus to represent him.

In an e-mail to Ravens Insider, Rosenhaus confirmed that he has approached the Ravens about negotiating a long-term contract extension for Gaither.

"We are pursuing a new deal on Jared's behalf," Rosenhaus said.

The Ravens are nearly $1 million under the salary-cap limit. Gaither is due a $460,000 base salary this season.

Gaither fired Kevin Pompey on April 20 and signed with Rosenhaus on Sunday morning. Gaither's standard representation agreement with his new agent will be processed today with the NFL Players Association.


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