Report: Former Buckeyes Sign Free Agent Deals
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — NFL Draft weekend can be the most exciting time of the year, both for fans and for players who waited a lifetime to see their dreams of playing professional football realized.
It can also be one of the most stressful and disappointing weekends of the year for guys who see their stock tumble down the draft board, and sometimes right out of the draft entirely.
There were 254 players taken during the seven-round, three-day draft extravaganza, which concluded with the Indianapolis Colts selection of South Carolina tight end Justice Cunningham, this year’s Mr. Irrelevant, on Saturday.
Cunningham was the 63rd player from the SEC to come off the board during this year’s draft, an NFL record for any conference in college football. That means one out of every four players (24.8 percent) taken in this year’s draft played in the Southeastern Conference.
Four of the top 10 picks in the draft were from the SEC, highlighted by Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel (No. 2 overall to Jacksonville) and LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo (No. 6 to Cleveland).
There were more players taken from the SEC East than any other conference in college football. The Big Ten lagged behind far behind, with only 22 players taken in this year’s draft.
That included a grand total of one player (barely) in the first round, as Wisconsin center Travis Frederick snuck in at the end, going No. 31 to Dallas. The first Ohio State player came off the board in the second round, with junior defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins going to the New York Giants with 17th pick in the second round (No. 49 overall).
Ohio State had two other players drafted over the weekend, and both are headed to the AFC North. John Simon went 129 overall (32nd pick in the fourth round) to Baltimore and Reid Fragel – who converted from tight end to offensive tackle as a senior – was snatched up by Cincinnati with the 34th pick (No. 240 overall) in the seventh, and final round of the draft.
“He’s a very well-respected guy up there,” Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander said of Fragel.
“He has long arms, he’s tall, he benched 33 times, which is really strong. People were afraid of his experience (at tackle), but he’s really quick and athletic and has a great future.”
They weren’t the only Buckeyes hoping to hear their names called over the weekend. Tight end Jake Stoneburner, defensive end Nathan Williams and FB/LB Zach Boren were among the former OSU players anxious to see if they too would fulfill the lifelong dream of hearing their name called during the NFL Draft.
It didn’t happen for any of those guys, but all of them have reportedly found homes, at least temporarily, in the National Football League. Stoneburner, a product of Dublin Coffman High School in Columbus, tweeted out that he had signed with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent.
“Today didn't turn out how I expected... But I am SO GLAD to say, I'm a Green Bay Packer,” Stoneburner posted.
“Thanks for all the love and support from my friends and family. New city, new team, same old Stoney.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
Nathan Williams, a DE/OLB who overcame mircofracture surgery last year, reportedly inked a deal with the Minnesota Vikings. He will be joined by former OSU wide receiver Duron Carter. The troubled wideout will play for the same team where his dad, former Buckeye Cris Carter, gained most of his notoriety as a pass-catcher in the NFL.
Photo by Dan Harker
Ohio State confirmed the Stoneburner and Williams signings, along with a trio of former Buckeyes who will get a chance with the Houston Texans this year. Former OSU captain Zach Boren leads that group of players headed to Texas, where they will join former teammate DeVier Posey.
Boren, a three-year starter at fullback who converted to linebacker for the Buckeyes last year, will also be joined by a pair of former teammates in Travis Howard and Orhian Johnson.
Those two defensive backs were both a part of the famed Ohio State class of 2008, which did not produce a single first-round draft pick. Howard and Johnson, a pair of Florida guys, will be joined in the NFL during training camp by fellow Floridian and 2008 class member Etienne Sabino.
The 2012 OSU captain has landed a free agent deal with the Giants, according to to Ohio State, where he will reunite with Hankins and former Buckeye offensive lineman Jim Cordle in New York. According to Ohio State, defensive tackle Garrett Goebel has signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Rams.
Zach Boren’s older brother, Justin, is currently on the practice squad for the Denver Broncos. He will reportedly be joined by former Ohio State wide receiver Lamaar Thomas, who transferred to New Mexico back in 2010.
NFL teams are permitted to hold a mini camp for rookies and undrafted free agents on one of the first two weekends after the NFL Draft, so the former Buckeyes should all be getting their initial introductions to the ways of the National Football League in the next couple weeks.
Other Reported Noteworthy Big Ten UDFA Signings:
Michael Zordich, FB, Penn State – Arizona Cardinals
Adam Replogle, DT, Indiana – Atlanta Falcons
Craig Roh, DE, Michigan – Carolina Panthers
Roy Roundtree, WR, Michigan – Cincinnati Bengals
Troy Stoudermire, CB, Minnesota – Cincinnati Bengals
Johnny Adams, CB, Michigan State – Houston Texans
Kenny Demens, LB, Michigan – Houston Texans
Kyler Reed, TE, Nebraska – Jacksonville Jaguars
Darryl Stonum, WR, Michigan – Kansas City Chiefs
Jordan Kovacs, S, Michigan – Miami Dolphins
James Vandenberg, QB, Iowa – Minnesota Vikings
Stephen Morris, CB, Penn State – New England Patriots
Matt Stankiewitch, C, Penn State – New England Patriots
Elliott Mealer, OL, Michigan – New Orleans Saints
Mike Farrell, OT, Penn State – Pittsburgh Steelers
Anthony Rashad White, DT, Michigan State – Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Cotton, TE, Nebraska – San Diego Chargers
Marcus Cromartie, CB, Wisconsin – San Diego Chargers
Jay Jay Johnson, CB, Purdue – San Diego Chargers
Marqueis Gray, QB/TE, Minnesota – San Francisco 49ers
Patrick Omameh, G, Michigan – San Francisco 49ers
Jake Bscherer, OL, Wisconsin – Seattle Seahawks
Graham Pocic, OL, Illinois – St. Louis Rams
Robert Marve, QB, Purdue – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Akeem Shavers, RB, Purdue – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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