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Dick Harmon: 10 years later, MWC a draft force

Published: Tuesday, April 28 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

This year's NFL draft for Mountain West players equaled the best in its 10-year history.

Breaking it down certainly tells a story.

The pros grabbed 16 MWC players and that equaled the league's record set in 2005.

And if you go by the numbers, TCU, with five players selected, was head and shoulders above the rest. The popularity of the Horned Frogs was so evident the ever-conscious-of-in-state-affairs publicity staff at the Fort Worth school couldn't let it go and noted TCU had the most players drafted of any Texas school including Texas (3), Texas A&M (3), Texas Tech (3) and Baylor (3).

Good to note. It works well when recruiting the blue chips that you had as many players picked as Southern Cal.

If you go by high picks, Utah having two taken in the first two rounds posted the top players taken in second rounders DE Paul Kruger, and DB Sean Smith. Only six college teams had more players taken in the first two rounds of this draft than Utah and that included USC with five.

Utah had four players selected the in the 2009 NFL Draft, marking the eighth time in the last 10 years it has had multiple players chosen.

Talk continuity and BYU kept a string of 15 years intact with at least one player taken out of the Cougar program.

Austin Collie, the nation's leading receiver ended up at Indianapolis, a place that had a long, long time to decide on his skills. Collie kept it quiet but his relationship with Peyton Manning started last July when he attended the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodeaux, La.

Peyton to Collie started nine months ago.

New Mexico has had at least one player drafted each of the last five years, and that's the program's longest streak in the modern NFL Draft era.

UNLV had at least one player selected for the third consecutive year and fifth time in the last six years. The current three-year streak is the third-longest in the MWC behind BYU (15) and New Mexico (5). Frank Summers is the first UNLV running back taken in the NFL Draft since Ickey Woods was selected in the second round of the 1988 draft by Cincinnati.

The four running backs taken in the 2009 NFL Draft is a new league high, surpassing the old mark of three selected in the 2002 draft (Jarrod Baxter, New Mexico-Houston, Larry Ned, San Diego State-Oakland, Luke Staley, BYU-Detroit).

Fui Vakapuna was the first BYU running back selected in the NFL Draft since Doak Walker Award winner Luke Staley was taken in the seventh round of the 2002 draft by Detroit.

Gartrell Johnson became the first running back from Colorado State selected in the draft since Calvin Branch was chosen by Oakland in the sixth round of the 1997 draft.

The Pac-10 showed its traditional muscle with 32 players drafted. How does this stack up with other power conferences? The Big 12 and Big Ten had 28 players picked but the talent-rich SEC listed 37 players drafted.

Remember that when the Cougars play Florida State in Provo. The Seminoles had one player drafted, Everette Brown, a defensive end who went in Round 2 at No. 43 overall.

Of note, Florida had three players drafted, which means the 2009 score stands: Kyle Whittingham 4, Urban Meyer 3.

What about the non-BCS folks? The MWC can brag it got 16 compared to the WAC's 10. But the WAC had a player taken higher than the MWC's top pick, Kruger at No. 57 to the Ravens when Hawaii's David Veikune went No. 52 to the Browns.

What's it all mean? The MWC says good-bye to some pretty tough guys. Collie will be missed in Provo and Utah will surely miss Kruger while Smith was simply the best cover corner in the league. TCU takes a big hit losing all that talent that really came on last year even if the Frogmen didn't get rings.

The MWC will be a young league with rookie coaches at New Mexico, Wyoming and San Diego State but there are enough veterans returning like quarterbacks Max Hall (BYU) and Omar Clayton (UNLV) that we'll find plenty of fireworks in 2009.

e-mail: dharmon@desnews.com

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