USF NFL CLASS OF 2007
Jeremy BurnettSafetyMinnesota Vikings
Jeremy Burnett is one of six safeties the Minnesota Vikings will bring into training camp this summer.
Burnett will be competing for a roster spot along with Darren Sharper, Dwight Smith, Will Hunter, Tank Williams and Greg Blue. However, only Sharper, Williams and Smith have significant playing experience in the NFL. Burnett ranked fifth in tackles for the Bulls last season, along with two interceptions and six tipped passes.
During the Bulls’ 24-19 victory over then-ranked No. 7 West Virginia, Burnett recorded four tackles and one interception to help lead USF to its second victory over a top-10 team.
Burnett joins one of the NFL’s top defensive units. The Vikings ranked eighth in total defense last season and allowed 300.2 yards per game last season, trailing the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears in the NFC in the category.
Thed WatsonTackleCarolina Panthers
Tackle Thed Watson is the latest former Bull to join an NFL team, signing with the Carolina Panthers.
At the beginning of the 2006-2007 season, Watson was added to the Outland Trophy List as the nation’s top offensive or defensive lineman. Along with Nicholas, he was named a Pre-Season All-American by Street & Smith’s magazine.
Watson is seeking his first action since the Bulls’ 27-10 victory over Syracuse on Nov. 11. The 6-foot-5, 295-pound tackle missed the final three games of the season after being dismissed from the team for an unspecified violation.
The Panthers also have Travelle Wharton, Jordan Gross, Jeremy Bridges, Dave Kadela and Rashad Butler at the tackle position in training camp.
The Panthers were 11th in rushing last season. Coach John Fox announced his team has perhaps the only serious running back controversy in the league between DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams.
Stephen NicholasLinebackerAtlanta Falcons
The long wait for Stephen Nicholas came to an early end on the second day of the 2007 NFL Draft as the Atlanta Falcons selected the linebacker with the 10th pick in the fourth round.
First-year coach Bobby Petrino will give Nicholas an opportunity to earn a starting position after linebacker Demorrio Williams
suffered a torn pectoral muscle that could keep him out of training camp and the pre-season.
The team’s official Web site has Nicholas listed as backup to Williams as the outside linebacker position – another fourth-round selection by the Falcons. Last season, Williams was second on the team with 90 tackles and started all 16 games for Atlanta.
“Unfortunately, we had an injury so we’ll start [Nicholas] out lining up at will linebacker,” Petrino told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Petrino is making his NFL coaching debut this season after spending the previous four seasons at Louisville, where he saw how dominant Nicholas could be firsthand.
Nicholas holds the USF record in career sacks (20), tackles for loss (53.5), games started (45), games played (50) and ranks second in tackles with 326.
As the 109th overall selection in the draft, Nicholas became the second-highest selection in Bulls’ history behind Kawika Mitchell, the 47th selection of the 2003 draft.
Ean RandolphWide RecieverKansas City Chiefs
Wide receiver Ean Randolph agreed to terms with the Kansas City Chiefs and is expected to compete to fill the void on special teams left by Dante Hall. For three seasons, Hall was the most dangerous kick returner in the NFL after returning six kicks for touchdowns in three years and averaging more than 25 yards per return for two consecutive seasons.
After a down year in 2006, he was dealt to the St. Louis Rams.
Randolph served the same role Hall did for the Bulls last season. Randolph led the Bulls in punt returns with 370 yards and a touchdown and in receiving with 49
receptions, 506 yards and four touchdowns. He also had three other returns for touchdowns negated by penalties.
Randolph will be competing with Eddie Kennison, Jeff Webb and Samie Parker for the wide receiver and kick returner positions.