From Thursday-Saturday, 255 football players around the country heard their name called during the NFL draft. For those who went unannounced, they’ll try and earn their chance at NFL stardom as undrafted free agents.
That includes a few local products, with former standouts from Plano Senior, Prestonwood Christian, Frisco Lone Star and Lovejoy among those who inked deals with NFL teams on Saturday despite going undrafted.
In the case of Plano alum Sam Tecklenburg, the former Wildcat had put any post-college football plans on hold in January after announcing his retirement. A talk over the weekend with Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, who coached Tecklenburg the past three seasons at Baylor, changed everything.
Tecklenburg will reunite with Rhule after signing with the Panthers, looking to carve out a spot on the offensive line after a successful college run at Baylor. Although Tecklenburg was recruited by the Bears as a tight end, he made the move to center as a sophomore during Rhule’s first year on campus.
Tecklenburg ended his college career as a three-year starter up front, seeing time at both center and guard, and earned second-team All-Big 12 honors in 2019.
During his high school days, Tecklenburg was a two-time all-state selection and an iron man for Plano — seldom leaving the field and seeing time on both sides of the ball at either tight end, offensive line or defensive line.
College teammate and former Frisco Lone Star standout Chris Miller turned in an all-state high school of his own with the Rangers and carried that success over to the college gridiron where he earned All-Big 12 selections each of the past two seasons. Known for his aggressive and hard-hitting demeanor at safety, Miller will head northwest for the next chapter in his career as looks to carve out a spot with the Seattle Seahawks.
Miller tallied 177 tackles over four years in Waco, including a career-best 76 last season alongside a pair of forced fumbles.
Miller compiled his share of gaudy tackle numbers in high school, eclipsing 100 as both a junior and senior under head coach Jeff Rayburn at Lone Star where helped the Rangers to a Class 5A Division II state championship game appearance in 2015.
As Miller departs for Seattle, he’ll be joined by Lovejoy alum Aaron Fuller, who won’t have to travel far after a productive run at the University of Washington. Fuller, who also inked with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent, played in all 54 games of his college career and started in 24.
Over four seasons with the Huskies, Fuller caught 159 passes for 2,051 yards and 13 touchdowns — including a career-best six scores in 2019.
Lovejoy benefited from Fuller’s pass catching plenty, as the wide receiver earned all-state honors and a trio of all-county selections during his high school career.
Prestonwood alum J.R. Reed, meanwhile, will continue his football career in Jacksonville after inking with the Jaguars on Saturday. Reed was tabbed by some outlets as a potential fourth- or fifth-round pick leading up to the draft, earning that acclaim after a stout end to his college career at Georgia.
One of the top defensive backs in the SEC, named second-team all-conference and Walter Camp All-American first team as a senior, Reed logged 54 tackles and broke up seven passes for a Bulldogs unit that ranked No. 1 in the country in scoring defense (12.6 points per game).
During his high school days, Reed was the only player at Prestonwood to start on both sides of the ball during his senior year in 2013 — making plays as both a wide receiver and defensive back to help the Lions to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools state championship game.
Reed did so despite an ACL tear sustained in high school — an injury that his father, 12-year NFL veteran Jake Reed, told St. Paul Pioneer Press Minnesota Vikings beat reporter Chris Tomasson resulted in his son being medically flagged, which could have contributed to him going undrafted. Tomasson reported that Reed also had offers from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals before deciding to sign with the Jaguars.