Raising Arizona: DRC To Fly For Cards

By Tony McClean
Updated: April 30, 2008

NEW YORK — When the Arizona Cardinals made Tennessee State’s Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie the 16th overall pick in Saturday’s NFL Draft, he was the first HBCU player to be chosen in the first round since 2000 when Jackson State teammates Sylvester Morris (Chiefs) and Rashard Anderson (Panthers) went 22nd and 23rd overall.

He was also the first TSU Tiger player picked in the first round since 1974 when Ed “Too Tall” Jones was picked as the No. 1 overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys and the first Tiger drafted into the NFL since 2000 when wide receiver Avion Black was picked in the 5th round by the Buffalo Bills.

Here’s a brief look at the four other HBCU players chosen in the NFL Draft.

DE Kendall Langford, Hampton

(3rd Round, 66th overall, Dolphins)

Notable: Langford played in all 11 games for the Pirates (6-5) last season, leading the team with 72 tackles. He had 13.5 tackles for losses, which was also a team-high, and he tied with Marcus Dixon for the team lead in sacks with six. He also intercepted one pass, forced two fumbles and blocked a field goal. The Petersburg, Va. native finished his career as a Pirate with 236 tackles, good enough for fifth in school history, to go along with 24.5 sacks.

Quotable: “I wanted to go to Miami because I felt the team had a lot to offer me and because of the location it’s beautiful down there,” Langford said. “I feel like I can come to Miami and show my ability and be an asset to the team.”

DE William Hayes, Winston-Salem State

Notable: Hayes became the first WSSU player to get drafted since Richard Huntley was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft (117th overall). A 6-foot-2, 260-pound defensive end from High Point, N.C., Hayes played in 29 games for the Rams in his career with 24 starts. He closed out his senior season at WSSU with 78 total tackles (46 solo tackles), 19 for loss, with a team-high 8.5 sacks. Hayes also forced seven fumbles and returned two of his team-high four fumble recoveries for touchdowns, the only touchdowns of his career.

Quotable: “What we did was trade this year’s five to Washington to move up from 124 up to 103 and that got us in position to have an opportunity to draft William [Hayes]” said Titans head coach Jeff Fisher.

WR Jaymar Johnson, Jackson State

(6th Round, 193rd overall, Vikings)

Notable: The 6-foot, 176-pound native of Gary, Indiana was ranked among the fastest receivers in this year’s draft. An explosive catcher and return man, he caught 66 passes for 1,140 yards (17.3 per) and nine touchdowns and averaged 10.9 on 43 punt returns (with two scores) over the last two seasons.

Quotable: “I am super excited for Jaymar,” said JSU head coach Rick Comegy. “When I spoke with him after his name was called I heard the excitement in his voice. This is not only good for Jaymar, but it is also good for our program. He is a good example for the guys that will play here next year. He does not drink or smoke and he is showing our players the right way to do things (to work hard and be a good person).”

DE Alex Hall, St. Augustine’s

(7th Round, 231st overall, Browns)

Notable: Hall became the first Saint Augustine’s College player drafted since the school restarted football in 2002. The 6-foot-6, 250 pounder ended his college career as the Falcons’ career leader in quarterback sacks (25.5) and tackles for losses (54) since the school resumed football after a 37-year hiatus. He’s also is the school’s career leader in sacks for a season (13) and sacks for one game (4.5). A Division II All-American and All-CIAA player, Hall shined in the Cactus Bowl as he recorded 1.5 sacks and one fumble recovery to help his East team defeat the West 42-13 in Kingsville, Tx.

Quotable: ‘It is a great thing for the football program and Saint Augustine’s College,’ said Falcons head coach Michael Costa, the 2003 and 2005 CIAA Coach of the year. ‘It moves us up in the eyes of the people in North Carolina and lets them know we are headed in the right direction.’