Kent State seniors join traditionally winning teams

Joe Harrington

Williams, Ferrell selected by Broncos, Colts in NFL draft

Every spring thousands of seniors will graduate and hope to find a job in the recent sagging economy. Seniors Jack Williams and Colin Ferrell don’t have to worry about that, for now.

Williams was drafted by the Denver Broncos with the 119th pick. Ferrell knew he was signing with the Indianapolis Colts before the draft had even ended.

“That was a relief,” Ferrell said in a press release. “I talked to (Colts President) Bill Polian about the defensive tackle situation and decided that the Colts were the best fit.”

The 293-pound tackle ran a 4.80 40-yard dash at Kent State’s pro-day in March, with Indianapolis scouts in attendance. Ferrell performed individual workouts for Colts scouts after participating in NFL combine-like drills, such as the shuttle run and the vertical leap (in which he recorded a 35-inch jump).

Ferrell arguably had the best season of his career in 2007, recording a career-high 56 tackles, 32 solo tackles. He ranked fourth in the Mid-American Conference with 16 tackles for a loss and also added five sacks.

The six-foot New Jersey native leaves for Colts rookie mini camp tomorrow with the NFL draft behind him, and joins a team that is a little more than a year removed from winning a Super Bowl.

“This is something I’ve worked for since high school,” Ferrell said. “It doesn’t bother me that I didn’t get drafted, because either way I’ve still got to go prove myself.”

Williams, who recorded 93 tackles and three interceptions in 2007, may have an easier time making an NFL roster after being taken in the draft. Williams is a physical cornerback who led the nation in forced fumbles his junior year, which may have led to Denver’s selection.

“He is a guy that is very physical and has the ability to play the pass, up coverage as well as off coverage,” Denver coach Mike Shanahan said. “He is a guy that we thought was very consistent in making plays.”

The longtime Broncos coach, who lead the team to two Super Bowl wins in 1998 and 1999, has full control over the drafting decisions for the team and has performed well in past drafts, selecting Pro-Bowl caliber players such as running back Terrell Davis, linebacker Al Wilson and running back Clinton Portis.

Known for drafting depth, the Broncos at one point had three running backs on their roster (Davis, Mike Anderson and Olandis Gary) that went on to make the Pro Bowl in their first and second seasons. Shanahan said depth had a lot to do with the drafting of Williams in the fourth round.

“We’re not deep (in the defensive back field),” he said. “You always have to have five corners and we have four corners. We really have six right now but two of the names I’m sure you don’t even know.

“I don’t think you ever have enough corners. Obviously the offense can dictate what type of defense you are in, so if you are going against an offense that’s using three, four and five wide receivers, you have to have a few defensive backs and we felt very fortunate that Jack was there with our fourth-round pick.”

Williams admitted on Sunday that he didn’t know much about the Broncos defense, but like Ferrell, was ready to help his team in any way possible. Ferrell and Williams become the sixth Kent State players to make the NFL over the past two seasons.

“Overall, I felt good about the draft,” Shanahan said. “Sometimes when you go into the draft, you get a lot of your needs and sometimes you don’t. I feel like we were able to get some quality players both offensively and defensively and also able to fill some of the needs that we needed.”

Contact assistant sports editor Joe Harrington

at [email protected].