04/28/2008

Four Longhorns to sign NFL free-agent contracts

Former Texas Longhorns CB Brandon Foster, S Marcus Griffin, WR Nate Jones and DT Derek Lokey have agreed to sign free-agent contracts with NFL teams. Foster has agreed to terms with the Indianapolis Colts, Griffin and Jones with the Minnesota Vikings and Lokey with the Kansas City Chiefs.

"Around the end of the draft, I started getting calls from a few teams," said Foster. "The Indianapolis Colts called and said I'd be the only corner they would be bringing in, so that basically sealed the deal for me.

"This is a great feeling. You work your whole life to try and get to the NFL, but the job isn't done and I still want to make the team. Hopefully, I can show the Colt's coaching staff that they made a good decision by bringing me in."

Foster played in 46 games, starting 13, at cornerback and on special teams during his career at Texas. He posted 106 tackles, four INTs, 15 PBU, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. A second-team All-Big 12 selection in 2007, Foster tallied 71 tackles, four INTs, and 12 PBU as a senior, while scoring three TDs. The three defensive TDs (two INT/one fumble) set a UT single-season record.

"Brandon Foster has great ball skills, speed and quickness," said Texas head coach Mack Brown. "He had to wait his turn to get a chance, but once he did, he made a bunch of big plays. In fact, he broke the season record for interception returns for touchdowns at The University of Texas.

"He has big time speed and even spent some time running on our track team here, but he also has the hands and the instincts to break on the ball. Brandon's a guy that got better and better every game and really opened some eyes with his speed and athletic ability at our pro day."

Griffin was a two-year starter for the Longhorns and played in 49 career games (23 starts). He finished his career with 231 tackles, six INTs, eight PBU, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. A first-team All-Big 12 selection as a senior, Griffin led the team with 99 tackles to go along with five INTs and five PBU. Griffin will be reunited with former Longhorns DB Cedric Griffin (no relation) and DE Brian Robison in Minnesota.

"Marcus Griffin is a great story because he’s been such a hard worker his entire life," Brown said. "Growing up with Michael, it was Michael who got all the attention, and Marcus has more than made his place in Texas football history and also with a chance to make it in the NFL.

“He’s smart, he’s tough, he’s one of the best tacklers we’ve had here, and he’s a guy who’s fought through pain in order to play when some others wouldn’t have. He’s a true team guy.”

Jones saw action in 49 games, starting 18, during his Longhorn career, tallying 99 receptions for 1,088 yards and nine TDs. His 99 receptions are tied for 10th on UT's all-time list. A first-team Academic All-Big 12 performer, Jones finished his career in 2007 by making 70 receptions for 795 yards and five TDs. The 70 receptions tied for second on UT's single-season list. Jones will also be reunited with Cedric Griffin and Robison in Minnesota.

“This is a great feeling and something you dream about,” said Jones. “I got a chance to sit with my family and watch the draft. I was talking to the Vikings the whole time and I got calls from some other teams after the draft, but I decided that Minnesota gave me the best chance to be successful.

“Having a chance to be on an NFL team is a great honor, but I know I have to go out, work hard and show the coaches what I can do. I’m a competitor, so I’m looking forward to having the chance to get out there on the field and show my talents.”

“Nate Jones was the perfect team guy,” stated Brown. “He’s a bright guy who can play any of the three wide receiver positions. He caught more balls his senior year than he did his other three, and he never said one negative thing about not being “the guy.” This year, his hard work and attitude paid off.

“Nate’s a guy who you’d love to have on your team. I don’t ever remember Nate dropping a pass, and I remember him making many game-changing catches.”

A member of the Lombardi Award, Lott Trophy, Nagurski Award and Outland Trophy watch lists, Lokey recorded 101 tackles, 18 TFL, three sack and 29 pressures during his 43-game career (21 starts). He was named a first-team Academic All-American as a senior in 2007 and also received second-team All-Big 12 honors after notching 50 tackles, nine TFL, a sack and 13 pressures. Lokey will join RB Jamaal Charles, who was drafted in the third round, in Kansas City and will join former Longhorn Derrick Johnson with the Chiefs.

"I had six or seven teams to choose from and didn't have much time to make a decision,” Lokey said. “Evaluating it all, Kansas City was the best option for me and I jumped on it. I'm really excited about the opportunity. They were one of the teams that showed a lot of interest in me throughout the process.

"Having a chance to play in front of D.J. definitely was something I thought about and look forward to having a chance to do again. I'm excited to have an opportunity but now the hard part begins. I've got to get prepared, work hard and do everything I can to earn a spot on the roster."

“Derek Lokey is a guy who has been one of the best leaders we’ve had since we’ve been at Texas,” explained Brown. “He’s not only a great player but a great student too, an Academic All-American. Derek's a guy that can do a lot of things. He was a dominant defensive tackle for us who also played fullback and can deep snap. He's a versatile guy.

“He played a big role on the defensive line all four of his seasons, and in fact made a great play against Michigan in the Rose Bowl as a freshman to set them back in a play we felt like might have turned the game. As good of a player as he is, he’s a better leader, and he’ll make everyone around him better.”


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