Former MAC Student-Athletes Signed To NFL Contracts/Rookie Invites
Ball State; RB Jahwan Edwards, San Diego Chargers
Central Michigan; WR Titus Davis, San Diego Chargers
Central Michigan; RB Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks
Central Michigan; TE Dean Butler, Detroit Lions - Invite to Rookie Mini-Camp
Central Michigan; LB Justin Cherocci, Detroit Lions - Invite to Rookie Mini-Camp
Central Michigan; DB Jason Wilson, Dallas Cowboys - Invite to Rookie Mini-Camp
Central Michigan; OL Andy Phillips, Green Bay Packers - Invite to Rookie Mini-Camp
Central Michigan; OL Kevin Henry, Atlanta Falcons - Invite to Rookie Mini-Camp
Central Michigan; TE Mike Kinville, Atlanta Falcons - Invite to Rookie Mini-Camp
Eastern Michigan; TE Tyreese Russell, Detroit Lions - Invite to Rookie Mini-Camp
Eastern Michigan; QB Rob Bolden, Detroit Lions - Invite to Rookie Mini-Camp
Kent State; TE Casey Pierce, Detroit Lions
Ohio; DL Cameron McLeod, Houston Texans
Toledo; OL Greg Mancz, Houston Texans
Toledo; LB Junior Sylvestre, Indianapolis Colts
Toledo; K Jeremiah Detmer, Chicago Bears
Western Michigan; DB Donald Celiscar, Indianapolis Colts
Western Michigan; DB Justin Currie, New York Giants
(CLICK READ MORE TO CONTINUE . . . )
Edwards Signs With San Diego Chargers
Jahwan Edwards, the Ball State football program's career leader in rushing yards, has signed a free agent contract with the National Football League's San Diego Chargers.
"Jahwan is a great success story," Ball State head football coach Pete Lembo said. "For the past four years, he embraced the process, took advantage of opportunities and treated people the right way. Now, he has rewritten the record books, has his Ball State degree in hand and has a shot to play at the next level. We are very proud of him and wish him well moving forward."
Edwards set the Ball State career rushing yards record in the seventh game of his senior season and ended his career with 4,558 yards. He set the Ball State touchdowns record and the school's career total TD mark as a junior before completing his career with 51 touchdowns – all rushing. Edwards also set Ball State career records for most points (306), most rushing attempts (884) and was second in school history for most 100-yard rushing games (18).
As a senior, Edwards rushed for 1,252 yards and became only the second player in Ball State history to rush for 1,000 or more yards three times in a career. He rushed for 786 as a freshman before tallying 1,410 as a sophomore, 1,110 as a junior and the 1,252 as a senior.
Edwards was a 2014 All-Mid-American Conference Third Team selection after earning second team honors in 2013 and third team recognition in 2012. He completed his career ranked fifth in MAC history in rushing yards, fifth in rushing touchdowns and sixth in rushing attempts.
Nine Chippewas Take Aim At NFL Camps
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- Two former Central Michigan football players have signed free-agent contracts with National Football League teams, and six others have accepted invitations for rookie camps. Wide receiver Titus Davis has signed with the San Diego Chargers and running back Thomas Rawls inked a deal with the Seattle Seahawks.
The six players who have accepted rookie camp invitations are Dean Butler and Justin Cherocci, both with the Detroit Lions; Jason Wilson, Dallas Cowboys; Andy Phillips, Green Bay Packers; and Kevin Henry and Mike Kinville, Atlanta Falcons.
All completed their CMU eligibility with the conclusion of the 2014 season as did defensive tackle Leterrius Walton, who was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday in the NFL Draft. Walton was taken in the sixth round, the 199th pick overall.
Davis, one of the very best wide receivers ever to play at Central Michigan, holds CMU records for career receiving yardage (3,700) and touchdown receptions (37).
His final game in a Chippewa uniform was a six-catch, 142-yard, four-TD effort in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl. His four TD receptions are both a CMU record and a Football Bowl Subdivision record.
Davis was injured early during his senior season and missed three full games. Still, his numbers -- 60 catches for 980 yards, a 16.3 yards-per-catch average -- were very good as he earned All-Mid-American Conference honors for the fourth time in his career.
Rawls proved himself one of the best backs in the MAC in his one and only season at CMU after transferring from Michigan. In just nine games, he rushed for 1,103 yards and scored 10 touchdowns.
Wilson is a cornerback and Cherocci a linebacker. They helped lead a defense, along with Walton, that ranked No. 1 overall in the MAC and 29th nationally last season. Wilson made 51 tackles and two interceptions, and was second on the squad with seven pass breakups.
Cherocci, who went from a walk-on to one of the best linebackers in the MAC, made 117 tackles including four sacks and forced two fumbles, earning first team all-conference honors.
Phillips, a guard, and Henry, a tackle, were mainstays on an offensive line that paved the way for Rawls to rush for an average of 122.6 yards per game. Phillips started his final 42 consecutive games at CMU and was a two-time All-MAC selection.
Kinville averaged 8.6 yards per catch from his tight end position a year ago, while Butler, also a tight end, caught 30 passes for 424 yards.
In October, Butler was named a co-winner of the prestigious Bill Boyden Award, which goes to a student-athlete who exemplifies outstanding athletic achievement along with campus leadership, accomplishments in the arts and community involvement. He was also nominated to the Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team.
Eagles Rob Bolden and Tyreese Russell Invited To Detroit Lions Rookie Mini-Camp
YPSILANTI, Mich. -- Despite not hearing their names called in the National Football League's Draft, a pair of Eastern Michigan University football players earned professional football opportunities with invitations to Detroit Lions rookie mini-camp. Tight end Tyreese Russell (Chicago, Ill.-Walther Lutheran) and quarterback Rob Bolden (Orchard Lake, Mich.-Orchard Lake St. Mary's-Penn State-Louisiana State) were each contacted following the draft and invited to come to the team's practice facilities next week in Allen Park, Mich.
Bolden appeared in six games last season, with three starts, after transferring from LSU. He threw for 399 yards (41-of-95) with four touchdowns and five interceptions, and ran the ball 57 times for 177 yards.
Throughout his senior season, Russell proved why he was named to the John Mackey Award Midseason Watch List, especially over the last half of the year. The Chicago, Ill. native led the team in receiving with 39 catches for 523 yards, more than double the amount of yardage of his nearest teammate. The next closest Eagle in the receiving category was Dustin Creel, who had 227 yards on 23 receptions. Russell was the Green and White's leading receiver in four of the last six games of his career. He hauled in 24 catches for 372 yards during the six-game stretch, including a career-best 113-yard game against Ball State, Nov. 22, where he made a spectacular one-handed catch to land a spot on ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays.
The Chicago, Ill. native finished his career with 101 catches for 1,417 yards and 11 touchdowns. Russell's 11 touchdown receptions is tied for sixth-most in EMU history while his receiving yardage total ranks 10th.
Casey Pierce Signs With Detroit Lions
Kent State's Casey Pierce (Parma, Ohio) signed as free agent with the Detroit Lions Saturday, shortly after the conclusion of the NFL Draft. Pierce put together what may have been the best season of any tight end in Golden Flashes' program history in 2014.
The 6-4 tight end was one of only two Mid-American Conference players chosen for the Senior Bowl this past season and just the third player in Kent State's history to receive the honor.
After starting his career with the Flashes as a walk-on, Pierce became a main target in Kent State's passing game by his junior year. His development continued in 2014 as the team captain established himself as one of the elite tight ends in the nation.
An All-MAC selection, Pierce's 60 catches shattered Kent State's record for grabs in a season by a tight end (previously 47). It was also the most catches by any Kent State player since 2004.
The Normandy High School product led the Flashes with six touchdowns and 641 yards receiving in 2014. He ended his career by making two or more catches in 18 straight games and three or more grabs in 12 consecutive contests.
In addition to his success on the field, Pierce earned a MAC Distinguished Scholar Athlete award and was selected to the National Football Foundation's Hampshire Honor Society.
Of all the draft picks and free agents to join the Lions over the weekend, Pierce is the lone tight end.
Cameron McLeod Signs With Houston Texans
ATHENS, Ohio -- Former Ohio football tackle Cameron McLeod has signed a free agent contract with the Houston Texans.
McLeod (McLain, Miss.) signed the free agent contract with the Texas after playing in all 12 games for the Bobcats in 2014, starting eight of them. In those 12 games, McLeod recorded 39 total tackles on the season and tallied a season high six tackles against Western Michigan on Oct. 25, five of them unassisted. He also totaled two sacks on the season for seven lost yards.
Three Rockets Sign With NFL Teams
TOLEDO, OH - Three former University of Toledo Rockets signed free agent contracts with NFL teams today immediately following the conclusion of the final round of the draft.
Offensive lineman Greg Mancz (Cincinnati, OH) signed with the Houston Texans, linebacker Junior Sylvestre (Hollywood, FL) signed with the Indianapolis Colts and placekicker Jeremiah Detmer (Hilliard, OH) inked a deal with the Chicago Bears.
Mancz was named second-team All-America by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He was the first Rocket to earn All-American honors since Eric Page was named honorable mention by Sports Illustrated in 2011. He is also the first UT offensive lineman to make either first- or second-team All-America on one of the five major All-America teams since Dan Bukovich made the Associated Press first-team in 1938.
Mancz was also honored as the 2014 Vern Smith Leadership Award winner, given annually to the MAC's top player. He is the first Rocket to receive this award since quarterback Bruce Gradkowski shared the honor with Western Michigan wide receiver Greg Jennings in 2005, and the first Rocket to win the award outright since running back Wasean Tait in 1995. He is also the first offensive lineman to earn the award in its 33-year history. Mancz also made first-team All-MAC as a senior, making him a three-time All-MAC recipient. He moved to center this season after playing three seasons at guard.
Sylvestre was a two-time first team All-MAC selection. He led the Rockets in tackles in both his junior (118 tackles) and senior seasons (100 stops).
Detmer was a three-time All-MAC kicker who was named the league's Special Teams Player of the Year in 2013. For his career, Detmer made 65-of-77 field goal attempts, including 19-of-20 in his junior season in 2013.
Celiscar signs with Indianapolis, while Currie signs with NY Giants
KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Western Michigan football alums Donald Celiscar and Justin Currie have signed undrafted free agent contracts following the 2015 NFL Draft on Saturday. Celiscar has signed with the Indianapolis Colts and Currie with the New York Giants.
Celiscar joins the Colts after wrapping up a stellar career with the Broncos. In his final season he was named First Team All-MAC and was a NCAA Statistical champion in passes defended after leading the nation with 1.6 per game. He finished the year helping WMU to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and an 8-6 record. Celiscar tied for the team-lead in interceptions with four and also recorded 63 total tackles. In four seasons he made 171 tackles, 10 interceptions and 45 pass breakups. He was named Second Team All-MAC in 2013 and twice earned MAC West Defensive Player of the Week.
Currie signs with the Giants after finishing a career that saw him lead the team in tackles in back-to-back season. In 2014 he finished with 105 tackles and was named Third Team All-MAC. In 2013 he led the defense with a career-high 113 tackles and also had a career-high three interceptions. He was named Second Team All-MAC and was also a two-time Academic All-MAC Team member. In four seasons as a safety he totaled 339 tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss and five interceptions.