Welcome to the big leagues

Caleb Raubenolt

Edelman, heavyweight wrestler going to the NFL

Former senior quarterback Julian Edelman became the third Kent State football player drafted into the NFL in the last three years. The New England Patriots took Edelman with the 232nd pick, in the seventh round of the draft. Daniel R. Doherty | Daily Ken

Credit: DKS Editors

With the 232nd pick of the 2009 NFL Draft … Julian Edelman became the 38th football player in Kent State history to be drafted into the National Football League.

Although Edelman was the lone player selected in the draft, four others – including senior heavyweight wrestler Jermail Porter – signed earlier this week to play at the professional level.

Julian Edelman

Kent State’s football program received a boost of accomplishment this weekend when Edelman was drafted by the New England Patriots in the seventh round of the NFL Draft on Sunday evening.

Kent State football coach Doug Martin saidhe had little reason to believe that Edelman wouldn’t be selected last weekend, considering his success at the team’s pro day in March.

“His workouts went so well,” Martin said. “I saw his value moving up by the day.”

In front of several NFL scouts present that day, the 5-foot-11 quarterback ran a 4.51 second 40-yard dash. Even more impressive was his 3.91-second short-shuttle run that would have been the fastest overall time at the NFL Scouting Combine, had he been invited.

In his senior season, Edelman passed and rushed for a school-record 3,190 total yards. Prior to Edelman, the record was held by former Kent State quarterback Joshua Cribbs, a current wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. Cribbs signed as an undrafted free agent with the Browns in 2005 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2008 as a return specialist.

Martin said Edelman’s versatility, like Cribbs’, makes him a strong candidate for a special teams returner and creates another option for the Patriots in the growing popularity of the “Wildcat” offense.

“I think Julian will make it very hard for anyone to cut him,” Martin said. “He’s too talented, and he has a such a range of versatility. He’ll be a great team guy.”

Jermail Porter

People who consider themselves NFL fans, regardless of their affiliation with Kent State, know the story of San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates.

Gates, a former basketball player for the Flashes, signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chargers prior to the 2003 season. Today, Gates has played in the Pro Bowl three times and was the NFL Alumni Association Tight End of the Year in 2004.

The common bond between Gates and Jermail Porter is that neither played a down of college football for the Flashes.

The difference? Porter has never played a down of organized football – not even in high school.

Signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent earlier this week, the senior All-American heavyweight wrestler leaves for New England’s first series of camps this weekend, beginning tomorrow.

Jim Andrassy, Kent State wrestling coach, said he believed the Patriots’ interest in Porter stems not only from his size, but his athletic ability.

“For someone that big, he’s pretty quick,” Andrassy said of the 6-foot-6, 312-pound Porter.

The challenge for the Patriots, Andrassy said, would be teaching him how to make the adjustment from wrestling to professional football.

“They know they’ll have to teach him and that he has to learn the sport,” Andrassy said. “I think it’ll come down to how fast his learning curve is.”

More notable NFL signees

Augustus Parrish, an offensive lineman who Martin said has yet to reach the peak of his potential, signed with the New Orleans Saints after going undrafted.

Kent State wide receiver Shawn Bayes, who led the Flashes in receiving with 642 yards and five touchdowns last season, signed with the Oakland Raiders.

Rico Murray, the Kent State’s lone senior defensive back last season, signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Aside from Porter, Martin said having four of Kent State’s former players go to the NFL can be credited to the Flashes’ recruiting system.

“All of that is a testament to our program,” Martin said. “(It means) our coaching staff is doing a good job of evaluating guys before getting here.”

Contact sports reporter Caleb Raubenolt at [email protected].