April 27, 2013
Rice senior tight end Luke Willson became the second Owl at that position to be selected in the 2013 NFL Draft when he was taken by the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round on Saturday in New York.
Willson joins fellow Rice tight end Vance McDonald, who was taken by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round on Friday. Rice and Stanford both produced a pair of tight ends to be drafted in the first five rounds of the 2013 draft.
This marks the second time in the last five years a pair of Owls has been selected in the league's annual selection process.
The last time the Owls had two players selected in multiple years was a stretch of 21 years. Frank Wilson, Darryl Grant and Calvin France were both taken in 1981 and Ryan Pontbriand and Brandon Green were both selected in 2003.
He is the first Owl overall taken by Seattle in the draft and the eighth to be taken in the fifth round. Both Jarett Dillard (Jacksonville) and James Casey (Houston) were taken in the fifth round of the 209 Draft.
Willson played in his 45th and final game as an Owl in the Armed Forces Bowl victory over Air Force. Despite a pair of nagging injuries, Willson played in 11 of 13 games in 2013 and caught nine passes for 124 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He showcased his skills by catching three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown.
He was named one of the captains of the 2012 team and completed his career with 78 catches for 986 yards and nine touchdowns.
He was previously drafted by the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League in 2012 and played in the Toronto Blue Jays extended spring training program last summer after being signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2011.
Rice has now had six players drafted in the last five NFL drafts, including four recruited by David Bailiff. The Owls only had six players drafted in a period of 12 years prior to James Casey and Jarett Dillard being taken in 2009.