UVa, VT, and LU Players Picked in NFL Draft - WSET.com - ABC13

UVa, VT, and LU Players Picked in NFL Draft

Posted:
*As of Saturday at 6:40 p.m.

VIRGINIA TECH
-Defensive back Antone Exum - who has dealt with injuries for much of the past year - is headed to the Minnesota Vikings. They drafted him in the 6th round.

VIRGINIA
-Defensive lineman Brent Urban was taken in the 4th round by the Baltimore Ravens.
-Luke Bowanko, an offensive lineman, was taken in the 6th round by the Jaguars.

LIBERTY
-Defensive back Walt Aikens was taken in the 4th round by the Miami Dolphins. Aikens had three interceptions and 62 tackles last season. He's the first Flame to be drafted since Rashad Jennings in 2009. To see an online video of an interview with Aikens CLICK HERE.

To see a full list of NFL draft picks CLICK HERE.

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From UVa athletics:

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia senior defensive tackle Brent Urban (Mississauga, Ontario) was selected by the Baltimore Ravens during Saturday’s fourth round of the National Football League Draft. Urban was the 134th overall pick. 

Urban is the second Cavalier drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft, joining Morgan Moses who was taken in the third round, 66th overall, by the Washington Redskins. Urban is the first UVa defensive tackle drafted since Monsanto Pope in 2002 (Denver). This is the earliest a UVa defensive tackle has been selected since Ron Gassert was taken with the 56th overall pick in the 1962 NFL Draft.

Urban is the first Cavalier drafted by the Baltimore Ravens since 2009 when Cedric Peerman was taken in the sixth round. Urban is the fourth overall Cavalier to be drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. The other former Cavaliers are Jamie Sharper (1997) and Anthony Poindexter (1999). 

Urban was invited to the 2014 Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, but didn’t compete because of injury. He led the nation's linemen with nine pass breakups despite missing 4.5 games with a high ankle sprain.  The senior made 40 tackles in eight games and was second on the team with 11.5 tackles for loss. Urban became the first Cavalier to have 4.0 tackles for loss in a game since Chris Long in 2007 when the defensive tackle recorded his at Pitt, a game where UVa held the Panthers to 199 yards of total offense.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL previously drafted Urban in the second round of the 2013 CFL Draft.

Urban graduated in December from UVa with a degree in history. 

Virginia senior center Luke Bowanko (Clifton, Va.) was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars during Saturday’s sixth round of the National Football League Draft. Bowanko was the 205th overall pick. 

Bowanko is the third Cavalier drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft, joining Morgan Moses (Redskins) who was taken in the third round, 66th overall, and Brent Urban (Ravens) who was taken in the fourth round, 134th overall.

Bowanko is the first UVa center drafted since John St. Clair went to the St. Louis Rams in 2000 (third round).

Bowanko is the first Cavalier drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars since 2009 when Eugene Monroe was taken in the first round. Bowanko is the fourth overall Cavalier to be drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The other former Cavaliers to be drafted by the Jaguars are Alvin Pearman (2005) and Chris Luzar (2002). 

Bowanko started the final 37 games of his career, seeing time at right guard, left guard and center. The Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominee was a 2013 team captain and was a key-blocking component to help Kevin Parks became UVa's first 1,000-yard rusher in a season since 2004. Bowanko was UVa’s starting right guard during its Chick-fil-A Bowl season of 2011. In 2012 Bowanko was the starting center. For the first four games of 2013 Bowanko was the starting left guard before injuries to the offensive line forced the senior back to center. 

Bowanko earned his degree from Virginia in foreign affairs in 2013 and is expected to graduate later this month from UVa with a master’s degree in athletics administration.
NOTES AND QUOTES FROM THE SELECTED PLAYERS:

Brent Urban
 
On how his ankle is doing and whether the injury affected his draft stock: “The ankle may have hurt me a little bit. It’s feeling good now, though, and it’ll be ready for late-May, early-June. So, I’ll be able to be ready for training camp and that kind of thing. So, it’s going well and I’m excited to get started, and I think I’ll be able to compete right away.”
 
On what the issue was with his ankle: “It was a high ankle sprain during the season that never fully healed. I tried to go during the Senior Bowl with it, but ended up needing to get surgery, and that was in early February I got that done.”
 
On starting football later in life and if he feels like he has more growth in the game: “Definitely. I’ve only been playing football at a high level, really, since I got in at UVA. So, I think there’s definitely a lot of years of growth left in me. A lot of the American kids have been getting high-level coaching since high school and even earlier. So, I think I still have a lot of potential that’s untapped, and I’m excited.”
 
On wanting to be a hockey player growing up and if he decided he was too big to play around the age of 16: “It was around then. I was definitely the biggest guy and I’d get a lot of penalties that a smaller guy wouldn’t have gotten. So yes, it was right around that time that I decided to switch over.”
 
On if he was a fighter when he played hockey: “I got in a couple fights.” (laughter)
 
On if he feels like the five-technique is his best spot and where he feels most comfortable: “I think so. Five-technique is where I’m really comfortable. I first decided to go to Virginia in the first place because [the team was] running a similar 3-4 defense, and I thought I would be a good five-technique. So yes, it’s a great spot for me, and I’m really happy I’m in Baltimore.”
 
On if he feels like he is improving as a pass rusher and what he can continue to work on in that area: “Just pass rush in general. I didn’t get a chance to really go up the field one-on-one; I was often the spy for the defensive end. So, [there are] many aspects of pass rush right now I need to work on and be able to use my hands more and flip my hips and that kind of thing.”

Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz
 
Opening statement: “It was a long wait sitting through that whole fourth round waiting for these guys to get to us. First, starting out with Brent Urban, he was a guy that we really liked throughout the whole process, starting in the fall. The scouts went in there during two-a-days recognizing just the size of him. He is 6-6, 300 pounds, basically, put together – he’s chiseled. You see him out there, [east-regional scout] Andy Weidl went in there [to Virginia] and was talking about him early about how he looks. We had a group of us that went in there and watched him play. He suffered an ankle injury that caused him to miss some games, but he came back late in the year and really gutted through it. On film, you see a prototypical five-technique body type who is playing in a 4-3 scheme. But you loved his motor, his competitiveness and really how he played on the early film. We felt like we were getting a potential starter down the road as a five-technique. Going on to Lorenzo [Taliaferro], a guy who was very productive this year at Coastal [Carolina], he helped lead his team to the playoffs. He’s a very physical runner. He’s 6-foot-plus, 229 pounds at the Senior Bowl or the Combine. He had a great college year in terms of production, and he is a versatile player who can run the ball. They use him in a variety of ways. They’ll even flex him out, too, on occasion – motion him out. He’s got very good hands out of the backfield. He is a really outstanding pass protector. They run a lot off play-action fakes and set him right up to pick up a linebacker or defensive end. He is not afraid to step up. He’s square. He plays strong in that area. And then as a runner, he’s a good, hard, aggressive, downhill runner. So, he’s a guy who went to the Senior Bowl as a small school guy. He got there with a lot of Division I players, and he held his own and was productive throughout the entire week, and of course the game as well. So, [they are] two guys who we’re really excited to get.”
 
With Brent Urban, do you see him as a big special teams guy who can possibly block some kicks? (Ryan Mink)
“Certainly, you could use him as a rusher. I think when you take a D-lineman, their role on special teams – unless they’re a defensive end pass rusher – they’re going to be pretty limited to kick return and the wedge and punt rush. But I would say with Urban, I think what you’re looking at is a guy who is coming off an injury, and I think that’s probably why he fell on some teams’ boards. But he’s got the potential to develop into a starting five-technique.”
 
What did you think of Brent Urban as a pass rusher when he was healthy? (Aaron Wilson)
“He is a guy that when you watch Ball State – I hate to use that [example] because [Virginia] plays in the ACC – but when you see the Ball State game – they’ve all got to go out there and play football – he really got after it. He showed the body quickness and the suddenness, and that was an early film. Later film, the ankle injury, you didn’t see as much up-field explosion. He does have that, and he’s a raw pass rusher. He has the physical traits in terms of the burst, the speed and the quickness. He is going to have to develop his hand playing and his pad level. But the potential is there to give you an inside pass rush presence.”
 
Is he healthy now, and will he be able to do stuff with you guys in the spring? (Aaron Wilson)
“We anticipate him coming in probably in a modified role. We’ll see when he gets here. But in terms of our trainers’ reports and the Indy [Combine] medical and every check, it’s a positive thing. Whether he’ll be full-go the day he walks in the door, we’ll determine that.”

From LU athletics:
Former Flames standout cornerback Walt Aikens became the seventh player in program history to be selected in the NFL Draft when the Miami Dolphins picked him in the fourth round earlier on Saturday.

Aikens was the 125th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and is the first Flame selected in the draft since Rashad Jennings was taken in the seventh round in 2009.

Aikens ties Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame selection Kelvin Edwards as the program's second fourth round pick in an NFL Draft. Edwards was taken in the fourth round of the 1986 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints and picked three seasons in the NFL (New Orleans – 1986; Dallas Cowboys – 1987-88).

The Flames top NFL Draft pick was Eric Green, who was selected in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1990. Liberty's other previous NFL Draft picks include Fred Banks (1985/Round 8/Cleveland Browns), Edwards (1986/Round 4/New Orleans Saints), Richard Shelton (1989/Round 10/Denver Broncos), Donald Smith (1990/Round 10/Minnesota Vikings) and Jennings (2009/Round 7/Jacksonville Jaguars).

"I am thrilled for Walt being selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins," said Liberty Head Football Coach Turner Gill. "People can see his athleticism, but he also has the intangibles that coaches look for in their athletes. He is a fierce competitor, a hard worker and is passionate about the game of football."

Aikens was the fourth player selected in this year's NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, following Ja'Wuan James (OT/Round 1/Tennessee), Jarvis Landry (WR/Round 2/LSU) and Billy Turner (OT/Round 3/North Dakota State).
Aikens is a three-time Big South all-conference honoree, taking first-team honors in 2013 and second-team accolades in 2011 and 2012.

Aikens tied for the team lead in 2013 for the Flames with 62 tackles. He led the Flames and ranked third in the Big South with 50 solo tackles. He helped Liberty rank No. 5 in the country in interceptions (19), individually recording three interceptions to give him seven for his career.

Aikens' draft stock rose after his collegiate career was finished, as he showcased his athletics talents at two collegiate bowl game workouts.

After finishing up the best year of his Liberty career, Aikens was able to participate in the inaugural Medal of Honor Bowl in Charleston, S.C., and the 65th annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

The native of Charlotte, N.C., gives Liberty three former standout alums of the program on current NFL franchise rosters.

Jennings, who was previously mentioned as a 2009 NFL Draft pick, signed as a free agent during the offseason with the New York Giants. Last year, Jennings led the Oakland Raiders as he finished the year rushing for 733 yards and six touchdowns. He also added 36 receptions for 292 yards and recorded two blocked punts.

Following the season, Jennings was named Raiders.com Co-Offensive Player of the Year, sharing the honor with wide receiver Rod Streater.

After finishing up his playing career at Liberty in 2011, Mike Brown signed a free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Brown, who was a standout quarterback for the Flames, just finished his second season with the Jaguars in 2013 and had a career year with 32 receptions, 446 receiving yards and two touchdowns as a wide receiver.

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