Brice McCain knew what was coming when his cell phone rang Sunday in the sixth round of the National Football League Draft. The former University of Utah cornerback recognized the area code.
Houston, after all, is just four hours away from his home in Terrell, Texas.
"I was very excited that Houston had a pick coming up," McCain said. "They told me to look at the screen and said, 'We're about to take you right now.' I ran to the TV. My family read the TV and went crazy. My family was very happy."
So, too, was McCain.
The Texans were the only NFL team the defensive back officially visited during the pre-draft process, and he liked what he saw.
The feeling was mutual.
"A lot of people were looking at the other cornerback from Utah," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said while making reference to Sean Smith, who was taken by the Miami Dolphins in the second round. "Throughout the draft, as we watched him, we noticed this young man on the other side and the type of football player that he was."
McCain, who may be the fastest player drafted over the weekend, thought he may have been picked earlier in the day. The delay, however, didn't dampen his enthusiasm.
"I'm still very blessed that I got the opportunity to get drafted," said McCain, who hopes to compete for a starting job and expects to return kicks as well. "And I'm very fortunate to be close to home. Not too close, but not too far."
The first-team All-Mountain West Conference honoree made 35 tackles, broke up five passes and had an interception last season for the undefeated Sugar Bowl champion Utes.
McCain was one of four members of the team to get drafted over the weekend, joining defensive end Paul Kruger (second round, Baltimore Ravens), Smith and wide receiver Freddie Brown (seventh round, Cincinnati Bengals).
Brown, who led Utah with 77 catches and 900 receiving yards last season, was the 252nd overall pick.
Even so, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis expressed excitement about having Brown and Cincinnati's other late selections in the fold.
"I really feel good about our last four picks. They hit us in good spots. I think every one of these guys has an opportunity to compete to make our roster," he said. "If they don't, they will make other guys better, and that is big. They all have great athletic skills and upside to play NFL football. ... I really feel good about the finish, in particular the seventh-round guys."
The group includes BYU fullback Fui Vakapuna, Memphis defensive end Clinton McDonald and Brown.
Several former Utes are pursuing free agent routes into the NFL. Wide receiver Brent Casteel is signing with the Cleveland Browns, and kicker/punter Louie Sakoda has been invited to the San Diego Chargers' mini-camp. Quarterback Brian Johnson, running back Darrell Mack and wide receiver Bradon Godfrey said their agents were working on options as well.
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