MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Last week, five WVU football players were selected in the 2016 NFL Draft while seven others signed free agent deals just a few hours later, proving once again that the West Virginia football program is the perfect platform to make lifelong dreams to come true.
WVU players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft:
S Karl Joseph – Oakland Raiders, Round 1 (14th overall)
CB Daryl Worley – Carolina Panthers, Round 3 (77th overall)
LB Nick Kwiatkoski – Chicago Bears, Round 4 (113th overall)
RB Wendell Smallwood – Philadelphia Eagles, Round 5 (153rd overall)
S K.J. Dillon – Houston Texans, Round 5 (159th overall)
The five Mountaineers selected this year were the most WVU players taken in a single draft since 1999.
Seven other Mountaineers signed free agent contracts in the days following the draft:
LS John DePalma – Philadelphia Eagles
P Nick O’Toole – Minnesota Vikings
LB Shaq Petteway – San Diego Chargers
DL Kyle Rose – Cleveland Browns
OL Marquis Lucas – Buffalo Bills
CB Terrell Chestnut – San Diego Chargers
LB Jared Barber – Carolina Panthers
The newest former Mountaineers-turned NFL professionals took to social media to express their happiness and give thanks to those who helped them achieve their lifelong dream of making it to the big league.
- “Woke up this morning feeling extremely blessed, sometimes I wonder why God bless me the way he does,” Karl Joseph posted to his Instagram account. “I still can’t believe it been dreaming of this moment my whole life. Thank you #raidernation @raiders I promise y’all won’t regret this pick #Godsplan.”
Joseph will be joining former Mountaineer and 2012 first round NFL Draft pick Bruce Irvin in Oakland.
- “PANTHERS NATION – THANK YOU,” posted Daryl Worley. “AND TO TOP IT OFF, I’M WITH ALL MY DAWGS!!! Congratulations to all my brothers man, I love y’all boys to death… WVU to the NFL no matter where we are, Mountaineers everywhere!”
- “Chicago here I come,” posted Nick Kwiatkoski. “Proud to be apart of the @chicagobears organization and happy for all my boys getting drafted and signing today! We just getting started.”
Kwiatkoski will be joining former WVU WR Kevin White, who was drafted seventh overall by the Chicago Bears in the 2015 NFL Draft.
- “Eagles Nation! There’s no fans like us,” Wendell Smallwood posted. “Living my dream.”
Smallwood has been an Eagles fan most of his life.
- “Just wanna thank the @HoustonTexans for this opportunity,” K.J. Dillon tweeted shortly after his selection. “Thank you. I beat the odds…”
- “So thankful for this opportunity to be a part of the @philadelphiaeagles,” posted John DePalma. “Blessed beyond belief. #FlyEaglesFly”
- “Blessed to say I have signed a free agent deal with @Chargers,” posted Shaq Petteway. “Very excited can’t wait to get to work!”
- “I’m very blessed to say that I’ll be continuing my career with @Browns,” tweeted Kyle Rose. “Can’t wait to get to work… Shout out to everyone who has supported me through this incredible journey! Can’t wait to make y’all proud.”
- “Blessed to say that I have signed a free agent deal and will be joining my brother @Shaqpett_36 (Shaq Petteway) with the San Diego Chargers,” tweeted Terrell Chestnut.
- “Blessed with the opportunity to be a Carolina Panther,” posted Jared Barber to Twitter. “Keep Pounding!!”
After what is arguably the best class of WVU draftees ever, Dana Holgorsen is receiving hard-earned credit for building the program up to what some consider an NFL factory. Per FOX Sports Bruce Feldman, “Dana Holgorsen is the only head coach to have a player selected in the Top 15 of four of the past five NFL drafts.”
In the past five years, WVU also leads the Big 12 Conference in players picked thru the first three rounds of the NFL Draft with nine.
Those nine players (including Joseph and Worley):
LB Bruce Irvin (2012) – Seattle Seahakws, Round 1 (15th overall)
WR Tavon Austin (2013) – St. Louis Rams, Round 1 (8th overall)
QB Geno Smith (2013) – New York Jets, Round 2 (39th overall)
WR Stedman Bailey (2013) – St. Louis Rams, Round 3 (92nd overall)
DE Will Clarke (2014) – Cincinnati Bengals, Round 3 (88th overall)
RB Charles Simms (2014) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Round 3 (69th overall)
WR Kevin White (2015) – Chicago Bears, Round 1 (7th overall)
Based on WVU’s fantastic draft statistics over the past five years, it’s safe to say that Morgantown, West Virginia is a promising place to make NFL dreams come true.
Cover Image Credit: @DougityDog/Twitter
All quotes in this article via the athlete’s social media accounts