A school-record nine North Carolina players were selected in this year's NFL draft, including five on Saturday. Safety Da'Norris Searcy, running back Johnny White, quarterback T.J. Yates, linebacker Quan Sturdivant and tight end Ryan Taylor were picked in final four rounds of the draft.
“I’m thrilled for the guys who were selected and I’m hopeful a few others will get an opportunity as free agents," coach Butch Davis said in a prepared statement. "I think several of our players, like T.J. , Johnny and Ryan, benefited from playing in our pro-style offense. It should make their transition to the NFL that much easier. Our assistant coaches and our program did a great job preparing our players for the next level.”
Talk about taking advantage of a situation to make a recruiting pitch.
Betchya it works, too.
North Carolina and USC tied for the most picks in the country. It is the highest total for UNC since seven players were chosen in the 1998 draft.
Yates became the first Carolina quarterback taken since Ronald Curry in 2002. Yates passed for a single-season record 3,418 yards and led the Tar Heels to the Music City Bowl win against Tennessee as a senior.
“I was sitting at home and it gets annoying watching it and not knowing when or if you are going to be picked,” Yates said, according to the school's release. “My oldest brother, my nephew and I finally decided to watch a movie, but I kept getting calls from my friends asking me about the draft. Finally, my agent called and said Houston was going to take me. The GM called and asked me if I was ready to be a Texan. It feels really good.”
Yates became the first North Carolina player selected by the Houston Texans. White became the first Tar Heel tailback taken in the NFL draft since Jonathan Linton in 1998.