With the 2014 NFL Draft beginning a three-night run tonight with round one selections, here is a list of things, you may not know about this year’s group.
If Jadeveon Clowney becomes the top pick in the draft, he will become the second South Carolina player to become the top choice. The other was running back George Rogers in 1980. He also turned in a time of 4.53 in the forty yard dash at the NFL combines; faster than any other defensive lineman and also faster than any quarterback.
Great players come from great bloodlines. Former Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Mathews, the all-time SEC leader in receptions, is a cousin of NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice. Offensive lineman Jake Mathews from Texas A&M is the son of former Oilers and Tennessee Titans Hall of Fame lineman Bruce Mathews. Clemson wide out Sammy Watkins is a half-brother of Florida cornerback Jaylen Watkins, who is projected to be a second or third round draft selection. LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr. won an SEC title, played in a BCS National Championship Game and and won a pair of bowl games in his career. His mother can claim bragging rights however as she (Heather Van Norman) won a total of five NCAA Titles as a member of LSU’s track team.
Former Tennessee defensive lineman Daniel McCullers weighed in as the heaviest player in the draft at 352 pounds.
Twelve of the last 16 number one picks in the draft have been quarterbacks. However in the last thirty years, only one quarterback has ever been named All-Pro. That would be Peyton Manning who was honored as an All-Pro QB with the Colts and the Broncos.
Dixie State (I didn’t know there was a Dixie State) tight end Joe Don Duncan likes to get himself pumped up before games by listening to Elton John. Really?
Tennessee has had more overall picks in NFL Draft history than any other SEC school. The Vols have had 334 players chosen, with Florida (312) and Alabama (309) second and third. Southern Cal has had more players chosen than any other school in the country with 484. Notre Dame (477) and Ohio State (407) follow in the national list with Tennessee placing sixth.
The Atlanta Falcons, who have been known to make some questionable draft choices in the past, drafted actor John Wayne in the 17th round of the 1972 draft. Wayne was a pretty decent player in 1920 at Southern Cal, playing under his real name, Marion Morrison.
Strangely enough, neither Florida nor Florida State have ever had a number one draft pick. The now defunct program at the University of Tampa had one, John Matuszak in 1973.
Only one punter has ever been drafted in the first round of the draft. That was Ray Guy who was tabbed by the Oakland Raiders with the 23rd pick in 1973.
1980 was the first time an NFL draft was ever televised. ESPN got permission from then NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to televise the event, even though Rozelle asked the question, “Why would you want to do that?” In 2013, nearly eight million people watched.
The 2014 draft is much later than usual as this year’s event had to be rescheduled due to a conflict at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The previous event was eventually cancelled, prompting the NFL to explore other venues for future drafts. This year’s NFL Draft begins tonight at 8:00 EDT on ESPN and The NFL Network.
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.
His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.
He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.
In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have three grandchildren, Coleman, Boone and DellaMae.
To contact Randy: firstname.lastname@example.org