Hurricanes, Nittany Lions dominate first roundPosted: Saturday April 26, 2003 6:38 PM
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Miami Hurricanes kept winning Saturday, this time in the NFL Draft.
The dominant college football team of the last two seasons with one national championship and one runner-up finish, the Hurricanes had four players selected in the first round: wide receiver Andre Johnson (third overall to Houston); defensive end Jerome McDougle (15th to Philadelphia); running back Willis McGahee (23rd to Buffalo); and defensive tackle William Joseph (25th to the New York Giants).
Penn State matched Miami with four first-rounders. Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy went 12th to St. Louis, followed by DE Michael Haynes (14th to Chicago), WR Bryant Johnson (17th to Arizona), and RB Larry Johnson (27th to Kansas City).
One player who might feel plenty of pressure to perform early is Wake Forest defensive end Calvin Pace, who surprisingly went 18th overall to Arizona.
Pace generally was projected to go in the third round and was not regarded by many as among the top 20 defensive linemen in the draft, but he was the ninth DL selected.
"A lot of people were surprised that I went that high, but I rank myself up there with the defensive ends in this class, and I'm proud to be with Arizona," Pace said. "I thought they were going to take Terrell Suggs, but they traded down, so I was thinking, 'I've got a chance with Arizona."'
Pace, a third-team All-American, had 27 sacks and 189 tackles in four college seasons. He had eight sacks in 2002 and goes to a unit that has been among the worst in the league for three years.
"It was strictly his pass-rushing ability," said Rod Graves, the Cardinals' vice president of football operations. "You're talking about a guy who runs very well. He's an athletic talent, he's smart. As far as I know, he's never had any problems off the field."
Penn State DT Jimmy Kennedy, who hails from nearby Yonkers, N.Y., said he was nervous that the Jets would take him with the fourth overall pick.
They did choose a defensive tackle, taking Dewayne Robertson of Kentucky, after trading up to that position, and Kennedy pumped his fist.
Kennedy preferred not to play for a hometown team, and he got his wish when he was selected by St. Louis at No. 12.
"I'm ready to move on," Kennedy said.
Oddly, though, his first professional game will be at Giants Stadium when the Rams open the season against the New York Giants.
How much did the Pittsburgh Steelers like Southern California safety Troy Polamalu? Enough to trade up for the first time ever.
That's what the proud franchise apparently did Saturday when Pittsburgh moved up 11 spots, trading with Kansas City.
It is believed to be the first time the Steelers traded up in the first round, much less so many spots. They have traded down numerous times to add picks, but always refused to give them up, as they did by dealing their third- and sixth-round picks to Kansas City to move from 27th to 16th.
"He plays safety like Junior Seau plays linebacker," said director of football operations Kevin Colbert.
Head coach Bill Cowher, who covets those who play with the same intensity and ferocity with which he coaches, talked of Polamalu as if the Steelers just acquired an All-Pro rather than an All-American.
"He has unique ability to cover like a cornerback and hit like a linebacker," Cowher said.
Polamalu has excellent speed to go with his hitting ability. And his desire, also reminiscent of Seau, another USC product.
"I love to play," he said. "You can tell on the field who's committed to playing, who does it out of love and who does it as job. I'm going to get paid to do what I love, and not many can say that."
A total of 10 underclassmen went in the first round of the draft, including three of the first four.
The non-seniors were WRs Charles Rogers of Michigan State and Andre Johnson of Miami; DTs Dewayne Robertson of Kentucky and Johnathan Sullivan of Georgia; DE Terrell Suggs of Arizona State; center Jeff Faine of Notre Dame; QB Rex Grossman of Florida; RB Willis McGahee of Miami; TE Dallas Clark of Iowa; and OT Kwame Harris of Stanford.