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Texas Bowl Alumni Make Strong Showing at 2009 NFL Draft

Many familiar names appeared for the Texas Bowl in the 2009 NFL Draft held this weekend in New York City. The class included players from each of the three Texas Bowl games and was highlighted by the Houston Texans taking hometown favorite James Casey from Rice in the fifth round.

“We know he can play tight end,” Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. “Obviously, that’s where everybody in this league was taking a look at him, and we’re no different. I also think he can play some fullback for us. He can go outside — he caught 111 balls last year, if I’m correct. And I know he’s a very smart young man, so there won’t be any load that we can give him mentally that he can’t handle.”

Casey called last year’s Texas Bowl the best memory of his college career and acknowledged that the bowl may have helped boost his stock in the eyes of the hometown team.

“I think it did. We just got done playing our bowl game here at Reliant Stadium against Western Michigan on the NFL Network,” Casey said. “So, I think it really did get exposure out to Rice, and let some more people see me that may not have seen me. My last game was here at Reliant Stadium and hopefully my next game is going to be here, too.”

Texas Bowl manager Heather Houston commented, “It will be great to see James Casey start his professional career where his collegiate career ended. We look forward to seeing him around the stadium and cheering for him on Sundays instead of Saturdays.”

Meeting Casey in the AFL South will be fellow Rice teammate Jarett Dillard who was picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 144th overall pick.

“This was a long day,” Dillard said on Sunday. “I would never want to relive it. I was getting so upset at times. And then so happy at times. It was just ridiculous. But I’m glad it’s over with, and I’m glad I have the opportunity to try out for a team now.”

On the other side of the 2008 Texas Bowl, Western Michigan University saw its second-highest draft pick in school history when safety Louis Delmas went to the Detroit Lions with the first pick in the second round. He is only the fourth defensive back from WMU to make it to the NFL. WMU also saw action when cornerback E.J. Biggers was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the seventh round.

Offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer from the University of Houston went in the second round to the New England Patriots, while the 2007 Texas Bowl champions of TCU had the most draft picks of any university in Texas with five selections through the seven rounds. The contingent of seniors included Jason Phillips, Robert Henson, Aaron Brown, Stephen Hodge and Blake Schlueter.

Two players from the 2006 Texas Bowl went on to become first-round picks in 2009, a year after Rutgers running back Ray Rice was picked in the second round by Baltimore. Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman went 17th overall to Tampa Bay and Rutgers wide receiver Kenny Britt was the 30th overall pick by Tennessee.

Freeman is the highest-drafted Texas Bowl alum to date. As a freshman in the 2006 Texas Bowl, Freeman was the only true freshman quarterback in the country to lead his team to a bowl game.

Rutgers, champions of the inaugural Texas Bowl in 2006, had a school-record five players drafted over the weekend. In addition to Britt, Mike Teel, Jason McCourty, Courtney Greene, and Tiquan Underwood all had their names called at Radio City Music Hall.

“We are so proud of all of these players,” Houston concluded. “Every year, we strive to bring together the best talent in the country, and the outcome of the draft this weekend just proves that the Texas Bowl annually showcases the premiere players in collegiate football.”


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