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Collins, Hunt await calls from NFL

It’s been 21 years since a Franklin County Bulldog was drafted into the NFL. That streak is expected to end either tonight or tomorrow as the 2013 NFL Draft begins.

Quentin native Jamie Collins and Meadville product Jordan Hunt, two head-hunting linebackers, hope to join Roxie native Greg Briggs as esteemed members of the NFL Draft Class. Briggs, who was drafted by The Dallas Cowboys in the 5th round of the 1992 NFL Draft, went on to collect a Super Bowl ring during his pro football career.

The NFL Draft begins tonight at 7, with first round coverage. Rounds 2 & 3 will take place Friday beginning at 6 p.m., followed by rounds 4 thru 7 on Saturday starting at 11 a.m. ESPN and NFL Network will carry the entire draft live from New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.

Collins could be in play in the late first round and the entire second round. His stock is holding steady as a second round pick, based on pre-Draft projections by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and NFL Network’s Mike Myock.

Trades on draft night could affect Collins and his status on the board. Some teams have him higher than others, and any shakeup could cause him to fall or rise.

Landing places for Collins are up in the air. First round possibilities include Pittsburgh at No. 17, Houston at No. 27, and Baltimore at No. 32.

“I’m just blessed to have this opportunity,” said Collins. “Growing up, you dream of this

but for it (to be drafted) to become a reality is a blessing from the Good Lord.”

Last week Collins visited the Saints, 49ers, and Seahawks facilities for pre-Draft workouts. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick recently worked him out at USM.

At 6-foot-4 and 250-pounds, Collins broke records at the NFL Combine before adding to his legend during one-on-one workouts with clubs. He set a new broad jump record at 11.7 and a position-best vertical jump record at 41.5 inches during the combine.

“Wherever I go, I’m just ready to get back on the field and play,” said Collins who will watch the draft in his hometown with family and close friends. “I’m ready to see what happens. It’s going to be exciting.”

Hunt Awaits Call

Last week Atlanta Falcons coaches flew down to Miami to work Jordan Hunt out at Florida International University. Hunt, who has drawn interest from the Dolphins, Saints, and the Falcons, is a likely free agent signee or rookie mini-camp invite. Still it wouldn’t be surprising to see his name called in the 7th round Saturday afternoon.

Hunt (6-0, 232)had a solid Pro Day at FIU last month. He’s an inside linebacker in a deep linebacker class, so the more LBs that are drafted in the first four rounds increases the chances that he will be targeted late.

Both Hunt and Collins graduated Franklin High in 2009. They were standout members on the Bulldogs’ 2006 Class 3A State Championship team.

“We’ve both come along ways,” said Hunt. “We’re always rooting for each other.”

The entire Bulldog nation in Franklin County is also behind the pair.

“Everyone is excited to see where these two young men go in the draft,” said longtime FC Bulldogs supporter Jessie McDowell. “Its a great thing for them, our county, and the program.”

Both players are represented by Bus Cook Sports out of Hattiesburg, an agency best known for its contract dealings with high profile NFL players like Brett Favre, Cam Newton, Calvin Johnson, Mike Wallace and Steve McNair.