• 66°

Troy puts mark on NFL squads

With the 27th pick in the second round the Carolina Panthers made Sherrod Martin a professional athlete April 25, but Martin was not the only Troy Trojan to break into the NFL mini camps this spring.

Six former Trojans inked professional free agent deals following the draft and two more will take their chances at a tryout later this year.

“It is all about opportunity,” Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. “There are a lot of people who put in a lot of hard work to get these guys to this juncture. Richard Shaughnessy and all the coaches here work hard to help these guys out.”

Blakeney said it is great to see so many Trojans get a shot at the NFL.

“Our attitude here is to never limit the NFL personnel in what they want to do when evaluating our guys,” he said. “We want to help guys get every chance they can to move on after they are done here.”

Terence Moore, Dion Small and Chris Bradwell signed free agent contracts and joined Elbert Mack in Tampa Bay Buccaneers camp. Mack signed as a free agent with the team last year and made the team.

“The thing about it is that free agency can be quirky, but if you stick with it and be patient it can work for you,” Blakeney said. “Elbert started out as a free agent, made the team and now I think he is their nickel and third cornerback.”

Trevor Ford inked a contract with the Green Bay Packers, Dion Gales signed on with the Kansas City Chiefs and Steve McLendon signed with the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I am just so proud of all those guys,” Blakeney said. “And that puts a mighty big feather in our cap that can help us when recruiting comes around.”

This year’s draft marked the second straight year a Troy Trojan was drafted on the first day of the draft.

The Buffalo Bills drafted Leodis McKelvin with the 11th pick in the first round last year.

“That is great for Sherrod and he really worked his way out of the third or fourth round,” Blakeney said. “He kept working out and doing everything right.”

Besides the seven signees, Kenny Mainor was offered a chance to tryout for the New York Giants and Josh Allen is going back for a second tryout with the New England Patriots. Allen was offered the chance last year, but was hurt on the first day.

Blakeney said the Trojans are getting ready for the 2009 season and he cannot wait to see how many Trojans lock on with NFL squads after next year.