April 26, 2009

Three Huskers hear names called on NFL Draft Day

It took a little longer than some expected, but Nebraska finally got represented in the NFL Draft on Sunday.

All together, the Huskers had three players get their names called during the draft, with linebacker Cody Glenn and offensive linemen Matt Slauson and Lydon Murtha.

After no Huskers were chose in the first two rounds on Saturday, NU finally got a player on the board when linebacker Cody Glenn was selected by the Washington Redskins in the fifth round with the 158th overall pick.

Though he played both running back and outside linebacker at Nebraska, Glenn joins the Redskins as a linebacker, as he was ranked 27th overall at the position by Scouts, Inc.

Glenn said he first found out he would be a Redskin when the team called him just prior to selecting him. Watching the draft at him Lincoln apartment with current Husker defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh and David Harvey, Glenn said he was both surprised and elated when he realized his NFL dream was about to be realized.

In fact, he was almost as excited as Suh was.

"I didn't know what to think, but once I got on the phone with them and they asked me if I wanted to be a Redskin, I was excited," Glenn said. "Then (Suh) picked me up and hugged me and almost broke my ribs. It was really a lot of excitement around here."

Wayne Mahaffey, Glenn's former coach at Rusk (Texas) High School, said he couldn't have been happier for his former player. Considering what Glenn went through at Nebraska with his one-year move from running back to linebacker and his suspension at the end of last season, Mahaffey said just being drafted at all was Glenn wanted.

"It's a thrill to be able to see him do this," Mahaffey said. "I know things didn't end up well for him (at Nebraska), but Cody is a tremendous kid. His dream since really the seventh grade was to make it to the NFL. Really with all the things that happened, with the position changes and all the things that went on with him, I know that he's thrilled, and we're thrilled for him that he's going to get an opportunity to try and play at the next level."

Glenn said he still wasn't sure what his exact schedule would be with the Redskins from here on out, but said he expected to attend the team's mini-camp, which begins on Thursday. However, he also still has to finish up the remaining week of classes at Nebraska so he can graduate.

Though it's been an unusual and sometimes rough ride, Glenn said he's taking all of his ups and downs at Nebraska and using them as learning experiences for the future.

"It's kind of like a relief, just getting that monkey off your back," Glenn said. "You go through so much, and sometimes you don't understand why, but you've always got to know that God has a purpose for everything. You go through all the hard times in order to get to the good times. I had my share of hard times here (at Nebraska), back in high school and everywhere, but it just shows that everything works out if you keep working hard."

Earlier in his career at NU, Glenn wasn't shy about his love of his home-state Dallas Cowboys, who happen to be longtime rivals of the Redskins. Asked if he could manage converting to a Redskins fan, Glenn said he was sure he could manage.

"I always was a Cowboys fan, and I'd always talk like, 'I hate the Redskins!'" he said. "But now I just got to keep that under wraps."

Slauson goes to Jets, reunites with Callahan

Next up for Nebraska was Slauson, who was selected by the New York Jets with the 193rd overall pick in the sixth round. Slauson entered the draft rated as the No. 10 guard.

Though he didn't have quite as impressive of a showing at the NFL Combine back in February as Murtha, Slauson jumped Murtha on the draft board likely because of his combination of size and versatility to play any position on the o-line but center.

Oddly enough, Slauson will be reunited with former NU head coach Bill Callahan, who took over as the Jets' offensive line coach after being fired from NU following the 2007 season.

"This is the second time that Coach Callahan has bailed me out," Slauson said. "I mean, this guy has taken a chance on me once again, and thank God for that. I could not be happier about being a Jet. All I can say is that I'm an NFL player, and I could not be more happy, because this is making all my dreams come true."

Slauson said he first talked with Callahan at the combine, and that Callahan was the first NFL coach to interview him there. He said Callahan told him he was impressed with Slauson physically, and Slauson told his old coach that his best games were still to come.

Though he and Callahan hadn't spoken directly since then, Slauson said Callahan was in regular contact with his agent after the combine and leading up to the draft. In retrospect the two seem like a perfect match, but Slauson said he didn't really consider the Jets as an option until about the fourth round, when they still hadn't addressed any offensive line needs.

Finally, just before the Jets' sixth round pick, Slauson's phone rang.

"It was their pick and then my phone started ringing and I knew it was them," Slauson said. "I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm going to be with Bill again.' I was stoked. I couldn't be happier right now."

Murtha lands home with Detroit Lions

Murtha knew going into the draft that he could potentially be selected as high as the third round and as late as the seventh. By the end of the day on Sunday, it was just better late than never,

The former NU offensive tackle fell all the way to the 228th pick in the seventh round, where he was picked up by the Detroit Lions. Despite a stellar combine in which he posted the best speed and agility numbers of any lineman, injury issues likely led to Murtha's slide down the draft board.

Even so, he still achieved his dream on being drafted. Coming into the weekend, Murtha said he had been told by various sources that he could be picked anywhere between the third and fourth rounds. While he ended up on the back end of those projections, Murtha will undoubtedly take the end result any day.

Other notes

***Running back Marlon Lucky he said that while he wasn't drafted this weekend, he still has high hopes of signing on with a team as a free agent. He said his agent has been in contact with several teams, but the Cincinnati Bengals seemed like the most likely destination.

***Other Huskers who will looking to make an NFL roster via free agency include defensive end Zach Potter, quarterback Joe Ganz, receiver Nate Swift and cornerback Armando Murillo. All players could not be reached for comment on Sunday night, but none returned phone messages.

***Of all the Huskers not to hear his name called this weekend, Potter was easily the most surprising. Because of his combination of size and athleticism, many expected Potter to be a mid-round selection. In fact, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said Potter could have been picked as high as the third round.

***A couple players with Nebraska ties were drafted Sunday. Iowa defensive tackle and Omaha native Seth Olson was picked up by the Denver Broncos in the fourth round. Olson originally committed to Nebraska back in 2003, but de-committed and signed with the Hawkeyes after former NU coach Frank Solich was fired.

The other was Nebraska-Omaha quarterback Zach Miller, who was drafted as a tight end by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the sixth round. Miller started his career as a Husker before transferring to UNO after the '03 season.

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