Texas coach Charlie Strong sounded like a proud papa on Friday discussing the three Louisville players that were taken in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Strong, who sounded practically giddy, said he jumped up and shouted “Yes!” at the television screen when Louisville safety Calvin Prior was taken 18th overall by the New York Jets.
Then, Cardinals defensive end Marcus Smith was snatched up by the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 26.
The Minnesota Vikings finished off a stellar night for Strong’s former team by trading with Seattle for the 32nd pick and grabbing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The Louisville program had never had more than one player ever taken in the first round. The Cardinals captured three in one night, players that were all recruited by Strong.
“What’s really a great feeling right now is to see three young men get drafted in the first round from the University of Louisville,” Strong said during a radio interview with ESPN New York on Friday afternoon. “I think about when we took that program over and then to watch them develop and grow over the years, and now for them to have an opportunity to go play in the National Football (League), it’s amazing.”
Months ago, Bridgewater was labeled at minimum a mid-first round pick. But for whatever reason, he started sliding down mock draft boards. Part of that was due to an uneven workout in front of NFL scouts on the Louisville practice facility. But suddenly, questions were abound about Bridgewater’s arm strength.
“Oh, I don’t know where that concern came from,” Strong told ESPN radio host Mike Lupica. “I thought abut over the years the number of games we won at Louisville because of Teddy Bridgewater. You knew he was an outstanding player.
“And you know what I liked about him, Mike?,” Strong added. “At the end of the game, if we were ever behind, our team had so much confidence that we were going to go score because they had so much confidence in Teddy. He made the throws and he can make the throws. I don’t know where that came from, but I’m happy that he ended up in Minnesota.”
Texas did not have anyone drafted in the first round on Thursday night. Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat has been projected as the first Longhorns player to get taken this year, but that might not happen until the third round or later.
The second and third rounds are Friday night from New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
News on Bevo Beat is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of Hookem.com is included with an Austin American-Statesman subscription in addition to Statesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe today at statesman.com/subscribe.