Wednesday, May 3, 2017

25th-Ranked Aztecs Prove Quality; Send 8 Players to NFL

The 2017 NFL draft was a great weekend for Aztec Football. Eight Aztecs – one-third of the senior class – will be in NFL camps this summer. Nico Siragusa (Ravens, #122), DJ Pumphrey (Eagles, #132) and Damontae Kazee (Falcons, #149) were selected in the draft, and five other Aztecs signed free agent contracts: Calvin Munson (Giants), Malik Smith (Texans), Alex Barrett (Lions), Daniel Brunskill (Falcons) and Kwayde Miller (Ravens). 

DJ Pumphrey, Nico Siragusa, Damontae Kazee (Ernie Anderson)

Three draftees was the most of any Mountain West team, and only 22 schools had more players selected. As AD John David Wicker Tweeted, that’s more than 38 Power 5 schools. And that’s more than Stanford, Arizona and Oregon combined.

A testament to the great program Rocky Long and staff have built. 

The 2017 draft reminded of another great draft, one that seems like just a couple of years ago, but was actually 50 years ago.

The 1967 draft was the first common draft by the NFL and AFL (prior to ’67, each league held their own draft). Eight Aztecs from the College Division National Champs were drafted that year, including QB Don Horn, who was the first Aztec to be selected in the first round (#25), by the Packers. 

Four Aztecs were taken in the second round: DE Leo Carroll (Falcons, #31), RB Don Shy (Steelers, #35), DB Bobby Jones (Bears, #36) and DB Bobby Howard (Chargers, #48).  WR Nate Johns was taken in the sixth round by the Chargers (#147), DB John Williams by the Eagles in the seventh (#174) and WR Craig Scoggins by the Chargers in the 15th (#381).  Eight draftees in one year is still the Aztec record, 50 years later.

There were only 26 pro teams back then. Leo Carroll was the 31st pick; that’s a first round pick in in 2017. Several of those Aztecs had long NFL careers, including Bobby Howard’s 13 seasons (Chargers, Patriots, Eagles), Don Horn’s eight (Packers, Broncos, Chargers) and Don Shy’s seven (Steelers, Saints, Bears, Cardinals).

Don Horn, Leo Carroll, Don Shy, Bobby Howard
The 1966 Aztecs were Don Coryell’s first great team: 11-0 National Champs with a high-powered offense (the original Air Coryell/West Coast Offense), stifling defense (four shutouts; six others scored 18 or less); and two future NFL Hall of Fame coaches on the staff (John Madden, Joe Gibbs). That great team laid the foundation for the Aztecs move to Division 1 three years later.

Congratulations to the 2017 Aztecs in the NFL, and congratulations to the 1966 Aztecs!


1 comment:

  1. I think you forgot Jeff Staggs - that would make 9 in 1966 -
    "Jeffrey Hugh Staggs was an American college and professional football player. He played college football at San Diego State University, where he was a linebacker on the Aztecs' winning the Camellia Bowl in 1966 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.[2] He played professionally in the American Football League and the National Football League for the San Diego Chargers (1967–1972 and 1974) and the St. Louis Cardinals (1973).[3] Jeff died suddenly and peacefully in his sleep September 17, 2014." Wikipedia