For the Miami Hurricanes, the 2013 NFL Draft pales in comparison to the program’s glorious past, and it can’t stack up to the number of premium picks used this weekend to draft players from Florida State, Florida or even FIU.
But to Brandon McGee and Mike James — the only ex-Canes drafted this weekend — it ended with euphoric feelings.
McGee, a cornerback, was drafted in the fifth round at No. 149 by the St. Louis Rams. He was the 21st cornerback selected.
“It’s a blessing to get drafted,” said McGee, whose selection ensured that at least one Canes player would be picked for the 39th consecutive year.
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“I couldn’t be happier. Getting passed up gives me an edge to go out and prove myself. I just can’t wait to get on the field.”
James, a running back, was drafted in the sixth round at No. 189 by the Tampa Bay Bucs. He was the 17th running back selected.
James said he “hasn’t come down yet” from the exalted feeling of getting selected by an NFL team, but he is pleased that Bucs’ coach Greg Schiano is a former Canes assistant.
“He bleeds orange and green, too, I guess,” James said. “I’m glad he pulled the trigger.”
Before McGee and James got the good news, there were some tense moments. After he went undrafted late Friday night, an angry McGee took a short drive to Fort Lauderdale’s Carter Park.
He put in a vigorous midnight workout, frustrated that he would have to wait until Saturday to hear his name called.
“Just sitting there waiting on a phone call — your future is in someone else’s hands,” McGee said. “When I didn’t get drafted [Friday], I was infuriated to see so many guys go ahead of me at my position.
“So I put my cleats on and went to the park, by myself. Football is my therapy. I go to a football field just like a musician goes to the recording studio or an artist goes somewhere to paint.”
McGee’s therapy worked, and now he will get to challenge Trumaine Johnson, last year’s third-round pick, for a job as nickel cornerback behind veteran starters Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins.
Meanwhile, the Bucs have Doug Martin as their starting running back after he posted a brilliant rookie season with 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Bucs also have veteran third-down back Brian Leonard. But Tampa Bay traded running back LeGarrette Blount to the Patriots for a seventh-round pick. The Bucs then sent that seventh-rounder to the Vikings so that Tampa could move up seven spots in the sixth round and draft James.
“When I got the call,” James said, “I was jumping for joy.”