CANYON, Texas – Following the 2014 NFL Draft, a total of 13 former Buffaloes currently are on NFL football rosters, one with a tryout this week and two are in the Canadian Football League.
Former Buffalo receiver from 2001-2004, Anthony Armstrong is back in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns as he recently signed there. Armstrong played wide receiver for the Buffs and has had stints with the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.
Eugene Sims continues his NFL career with the St. Louis Rams as he played for the Buffs in 2008-09 as a defensive lineman. Bryan Braman (2009) recently signed with the Philadelphia Eagles after a stint with the Houston Texans at linebacker Also from 2008-09, J’Marcus Webb signed with the Kansas City Chiefs after playing for the Chicago Bears previously. Former wide receiver Brittan Golden (2007-2011) continues his career with the Arizona Cardinals after a stint with the Chicago Bears.
Last season, the Buffs had two players earn roster spots with NFL teams as former running back Khiry Robinson (2012-13) and offensive lineman Manase Foketi (2012). Robinson earned a spot with the New Orleans Saints and made the most of his rookie year. Robinson played in 10 games last season for the Saints with 54 carries for 224 yards and one touchdown during the regular season and then rushed 21 times for 102 yards and a touchdown in the postseason earning much praise from the national media.
As a Buff, Robinson left WT after rushing for a school-record 1,621 yards with 15 touchdowns along with 38 receptions for 430 yards as a senior in 2012. He averaged 124.7 yards per game and ranked 13th nationally. Robinson was 10th nationally in all-purpose yards at 173.22. He was a D2Football.com Second Team All-America selection.
Foketi, who graduated from Kansas State in 2011 and had a year of eligibility left, signed a free agent contract with the Broncos originally last season. He also was on the Bills’ roster last season and recently signed with the Saints joining Sims and Robinson. Foketi started all 15 games on the offensive line and earned Daktronics First Team All-America honors, as well as a finalist for the Gene Upshaw award. He also was named to the American Football Coaches Association First Team and was invited to the East-West Shrine Game, Jan. 19, 2013, in St. Petersburg, Fla. He helped lead the Buffaloes to a 12-3 season and the school's first berth in the NCAA Semifinals. He earned Don Hanson All-Super Region Four first team honors.
The 2013 senior class has six players who have signed free agent contracts in the NFL. Senior quarterback Dustin Vaughan inked with the Dallas Cowboys and has received a lot of attention nationally thus far.
Vaughan, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, had an outstanding career on and off the field for the Buffs. He was the only quarterback at any level this season to pass for over 5,000 yards with 5,401, which are most all-time in Division II. He led the nation in passing and was second in passing yards per game at 385.7. His 53 touchdown passes also led the nation and was the most in conference history in a season, was well as being third-most all-time in Division II. For his career, he owns the school and conference record for career passing yard (13,525), total yards (13,608) and touchdowns (123).
He finished runner-up in the prestigious Harlon Hill Award and earned American Football Coaches Association All-America honors this season as he helped guide the Buffs to an 11-3 record and a berth in the NCAA quarterfinals. Vaughan finished the season going 447 of 675 for an impressive 66.2 completion average in 2013. He was a two-time Lone Star Conference Offensive Player of the Year selection. Vaughan earned the President's Award this year for the athletic department.
Not only did he excel on the field, but also in the classroom as he graduated last December and was just one of 15 student-athletes from all levels of college football to earn an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete. He is a two-time LSC football Academic Player of the Year and was named CoSIDA Division II Football Academic Player of the Year in 2013. He also earned CoSIDA Academic All-America honors this past season. Vaughan also was named Conference Commissioner's Association Regional Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award in 2013. He also earned LSC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2013. He also has been on the Dean's List and President's List his entire time at WT and was a member of Alpha Chi Omega and Gamma Beta Phi.
Vaughan graduated with a 3.86 grade-point average in biology/pre-med. He plans on attending medical school and eventually be a M.D. with a focus on sports medicine following his football career.
The Saints signed the services of standout defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks as he joins Sims, Foketi and Robinson in New Orleans. The Oakland, Calif., native, Westbrooks earned first team all-conference honors as he led the team with 19.5 tackles for loss and ranked 37th nationally in tackles for loss per game at 1.4. He was second in the conference in tackles for loss and led the team with 10 quarterback hurries.
In 2012, Westbrooks was named the Ron Lenz Division II National Defensive Player of the Year as he had 19.5 sacks coming within one sack of the NCAA Division II record as he earned multiple All-America accolades in his first season as a Buffalo.
Taylor McCuller, a Red Oak, Texas, native, signed a free agent contract with the New England Patriots as a linebacker. There has been some talk that he may switch to fullback. McCuller played in 38 games with 30 starts for the Buffs and finished with 281 total tackles, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He was named LSC Linebacker of the Year as he started all 14 games. He led the team in tackles with 152 and had 61 solo stops. McCuller finished 17th nationally in tackles per game at 10.9. He set the NCAA Division II record with 22 assisted tackles and 27 total stops against Angelo State this past season.
He tallied 10.5 tackles for loss for 28 yards and two sacks for 15 yards. McCuller tallied his first INT setting up the Buffs' game-winning field goal drive in a thrilling 34-31, come-from-behind victory against Chadron State in the Lone Star Football Festival. McCuller had four fumble recoveries and scored his first career touchdown on a fumble recovery. He broke the school-record for tackles in a season with 164 in 2012 and was named second team Daktronics All-Region last year.
Bryan Johnson signed with the Buffalo Bills as a linebacker returning to his home state of New York. The Bellport, N.Y., native, played in 28 games with 10 starts in his two seasons in Canyon. Johnson earned second team all-conference honors in 2012 and earned first team all-league honors this past season. He finished his career with 89 total tackles and 34 solo stops. He had 16.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
Wide receiver and offensive lineman Torrence Allen and Craig Watts, respectively, each signed with the San Diego Chargers. Allen, a native of Meridian, Texas/Meridian High School, put the finishing touches on an amazing career as he played and started all 14 games and was a first team all-conference selection. He led the team with 123 receptions and 1,668 yards which was second-most in school history in a season and ranked second nationally. He finished 13th nationally in receiving yards per game at 119.1 and was seventh nationally in receptions at 8.8. Allen had 12 touchdown receptions on the year which was good for 17th nationally, while leading the conference in receptions, yards and was third in all-purpose yards.
He ranks second in WT career history in yards with 3,500 and second in receptions with 234. He was a second team all-region selection in 2012 and was named LSC Co-Receiver of the Year in 2012.
Watts, a native of Killeen, Texas/Killeen HS, completed an outstanding career for the Buffs on the offensive line. He played and started all 14 games as he earned first team all-conference accolades and was named LSC Offensive Lineman of the Year. He didn't allow a sack in 691 pass attempts and had 34 knockdowns while grading out at 91% in 2013. He blocked for the national leader (Vaughan) in passing yards (5,401) and second in passing yards per game at 385.8. The team was fourth in scoring at 46.1 points per game.
The Buffs were ninth nationally in total offense at 500 yards per game and the offense threw just 10 interceptions all season. WT set the LSC record for points in a season (645). Watts was a second team all-conference selection in 2012 and honorable mention in 2011.
Kicker, Sergio Castillo, has a tryout with the Miami Dolphins this week as he had a minicamp tryout with the New Orleans Saints right after the draft.
Castillo, a native of La Joya, Texas, set the NCAA record for career scoring at 437 points and broke the LSC career field goal record with his 62 successful kicks. Castillo went 24 of 30 in field goals this season while connecting on 77 of 78 extra-points. Castillo earned first team all-conference accolades and was a first team Daktronics All-America selection for the second consecutive year. He tied the school-record for four field goals in a game twice this season and earned LSC Special Teams Player of the Week accolades twice.
He led the Buffs in scoring while playing a key role in the team's successful playoff run and 11-3 record. He is a very accurate kicker, having made 62 of 79 career field goals and 251 of 255 extra points. Castillo earned the Fred Mitchell Award as the top kicker in FCS, Division II, Division III, NAIA and NJCAA.
Along with the NFL signees, linebacker Chris Olson inked with the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League and linebacker Kyle Voss originally signed with the Calgary Stampeders and recently signed with the Montreal Alouettes.