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Huskies make history with five draft picks

By Chuck Banning

Publication: The Day

Published April 28. 2013 4:00AM

Trevardo Williams and Ryan Griffin found out Saturday they are going to remain teammates, and in the process also helped make history for the UConn football program.

Williams and Griffin were selected by the Houston Texans on the final day of the 2013 NFL draft, giving the Huskies a record five selections in the three-day event.

Williams, a defensive end, was taken in the fourth round (124th overall) and Griffin, a tight end, went to the Texans in the sixth round (201st overall).

Their selections came a day after three of teammates went within seven picks of each other in the third round - cornerback Dwayne Gratz to the Jacksonville Jaguars (64th overall), linebacker Sio Moore to the Oakland Raiders (No. 66) and cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson to the Tennessee Titans (No. 70).

Previously, UConn had four players taken in the 2009 and 2011 drafts.

"It's unprecedented," Griffin said during a conference call Saturday night. "It really goes to show the character of the people in the organization. ... I'm so proud of my guys. We had a disappointing couple of years here. It's nice to see how hard work pays off."

Williams, a 6-foot-2, 233-pound former elite sprinter at Bridgeport Central, was an All-Big East first team pick after leading the Huskies with 11.5 sacks in 2012 and finishing as UConn's career leader (30.5). The Texans, however, are expected to play Williams at outside linebacker.

"I'm not sure what (the Texans) have in store for me, but I'm willing to do anything," said Williams, a native of Jamaica.

"I have the ability to play either position. It's a pretty good fit for me. However they can use me, I'm ready to get after it."

The 6-foot-6, 247-pound Griffin was a second team All-Big East pick last season, impressive considering the struggles UConn had in its passing game.

But Griffin is a big target, and NFL scouts were also impressed with his speed and route-running ability during UConn's Pro Day.

Griffin was the only one of UConn's five draft picks who wasn't invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, and he drew motivation from the perceived snub.

"I was extremely frustrated when I didn't get invited to the combine," Griffin said. "You don't earn anything there, but you to get to show teams what you can do. I used it as motivation and really focused on my pro day.

"I'm happy it all worked out in end. I think the Texans realized what kind of guy I am and what kind of football player I am. ... I haven't put the shoulder pads and helmet on for them yet and I know I've got to earn everything I get, but I'm ready to do that."

c.banning@theday.com

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