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Two former Eagles selected in NFL Draft


May 14, 2014

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Jerick McKinnon
3rd round, Minnesota Vikings

    Georgia Southern running back and quarterback Jerick McKinnon became the 10th Eagle player ever selected in the NFL Draft, going in the third round as the 96th overall pick to the Minnesota Vikings Friday. The two-time All-American and team MVP, McKinnon finished his career at Georgia Southern with 3,899 career rushing yards, good for third on the Eagles’ all-time list.
    “When they called me, I just started crying,” McKinnon said about taking the call from the Minnesota Vikings at his home in Marietta, Ga. “I can’t explain how I feel. There has been so much that has gone into this day. I started playing when I was 4 years old, and my pops would coach me in the backyard after school. Just to get to this point, there was so much work and effort, and having it play out this way, this is a testament of God doing his work. At the end of the day, I feel very blessed.”
    McKinnon, who scored the game-winning touchdown in Georgia Southern’s epic victory over Florida in The Swamp last November, left his mark on the program with rankings in numerous career offensive top-10 lists. His offensive efforts were critical in the Eagles’ comeback road win at Old Dominion in 2012, and his 316 rushing yards against Central Arkansas that same year rank as the most by a quarterback and second-most ever by an Eagle. He ran or passed for at least one touchdown in all but one game in which he played.
    Fourteen of McKinnon’s 17 games with 100 or more yards rushing came in his last two years, and his 1,817 rushing yards in 2012 were the most ever by an Eagle junior. He also tied a Georgia Southern record for most interceptions in a playoff game with two against Maine during his sophomore season.
    McKinnon reported to the Vikings for rookie camp Tuesday.
    Adrian Peterson, still the NCAA’s Division I career rushing leader, was the last Eagle offensive player tabbed for the NFL, going in the sixth round to the Chicago Bears. Peterson went on to enjoy a nine-year career in the Windy City.


Lavelle Westbrooks
7th round, Cincinnati Bengals


    Georgia Southern cornerback Lavelle Westbrooks was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals as the 37th pick in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft Saturday. He becomes the fifth Eagle defensive back drafted by NFL teams in the program history and the first to be selected by the Bengals.
    A four-year starter at both cornerback and safety, Westbrooks was tabbed by Fox Sports as the best cover corner during the Reese’s Senior Bowl week in January. Westbrooks started in 41 of his 49 career games as an Eagle and was honored by Phil Steele Publications as a second team All-American as a senior.
    “I feel great. I am very blessed and excited to know where I am going to play football,” said Westbooks, who was with family at his Riverdale, Ga., home when the call came from the Bengals. “I wasn’t anxious today, but the Bengals were the first team I met with, and after all this time, they chose me. I spoke to Darius (Eubanks) today, and he told me that we’re in a very physical conference. I want to go up there, play ball, and show them what I can do.”
    Westbrooks received his itinerary and arrived in Cincinnati early this week to meet team personnel.
    Westbrooks was a second-team All-Southern Conference pick by both coaches and media after leading the league in passes defended for most of the 2013 season. He recorded 10 tackles in the Eagles’ triple-overtime victory over Chattanooga in 2012 and finished his career with 167 total. He had two interceptions in each of the last two seasons, returning one for 72 yards for a touchdown against Samford in 2012.
    The last time two Eagles were taken in the NFL Draft was 1987, when Tracy Ham, drafted as a running back (9th round), and defensive end Fred Stokes (12th round) both were selected by the Los Angeles Rams. Safety J.J. Wilcox was the last Georgia Southern defensive back selected in the NFL Draft, the 80th pick overall in 2013.
    Two Eagles are now with NFL teams based in Ohio, as linebacker Darius Eubanks joined the Cleveland Browns organization last season and earned a starting spot after he was promoted to the active roster at the end of October.


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