Former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football standout Buster Skrine was chosen by the Cleveland Browns in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft today. Skrine was the sixth pick in the round, the 137th selection overall.
Skrine (pronounced 'Screen') was a two-time First Team All-Southern Conference Defensive Back. He is the first Moc to be selected in the NFL Draft since Terdell Sands was chosen by the Kansas City Chiefs in the seventh round in 2001.
"Buster was chosen because of the hard work he put in to get himself ready to play at that level," stated UTC Head Coach Russ Huesman. "He is an unbelievable kid who deserves a chance because of his work ethic. I am very proud of him and am fully confident that he will make the team and be on a roster in the fall."
A native of Woodstock, Ga., Skrine was a four-year letter winner at right corner for the Mocs. A team captain in 2010, he finished the year with 39 tackles, including 29 solo stops. He recorded five interceptions in his career, playing in 42 games with 29 starts.
Skrine is the sixth Moc in school history to be selected in the first five rounds of the NFL Draft.
He joins Gary Tucker (Miami- 5th/129th - 1967), Pete Pullara (Cleveland - 4th/103rd - 1978), Travis McNeal (Seattle - 4th/101st - 1989), Tony Hill (Dallas - 4th/108th - 1991) and Terrell Owens (San Francisco - 3rd/89th - 1996) as Chattanooga players taken in the first five rounds.
Skrine helped turnaround Chattanooga's football program, improving from 1-11 in 2008 to 6-5 in 2009. UTC again went 6-5 in 2010 and Skrine's play on defense was a huge piece of the rebuilding process. UTC went 5-3 in the ultra-competitive Southern Conference last season, its most league wins since 1985.
After guiding the Mocs to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1990 and 1991, Skrine saw his stock shoot up since the NFL Combine. He posted an unofficial 4.29 in the 40-yard dash based on the NFL Network's hand time at the Combine.
He also had the fastest official time in the 60-yard shuttle at 10.75. That number was listed as a 'recent best' on NFL.com/combine. He was second in the 20-yard shuttle at 3.90 and second in the three cone drill at 6.44.
Those numbers labeled him a 'sleeper' in this year's draft. He is the highest Moc drafted since Owens was taken in the third round by San Francisco in 1996. Owens (1992-95) and Philadelphia Eagle Eldra Buckley (2005-06) are the two former Mocs who are currently in the NFL.
For the full history of the Mocs in the NFL Draft, check out page 11 in the 2010 Chattanooga Football Media Guide. The online version is available here.