The University of Louisville football program made an impact on the 2015 NFL Draft this weekend, as a school-record 10 players were selected during the three-day event in Chicago.
After a combined four players were taken during the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday, Louisville sent six more players to NFL teams on Saturday.
The 10 selections were the second-most of any school in the country, finishing behind fellow ACC-foe Florida State, which totaled 11.
Safety James Sample was selected in the fourth round (No. 104) by Jacksonville. The Cardinals had three players drafted in the sixth round: outside linebacker Deiontrez Mount (No. 177) went to Tennessee, cornerback Charles Gaines (No. 189) was picked by Cleveland and defensive end B.J. Dubose (No. 193) was drafted by Minnesota. All-American safety Gerod Holliman (No. 239) was a seventh-round pick of Pittsburgh, and tight end Gerald Christian was Mr. Irrelevant, going No. 256 to Arizona with the final pick of the seventh round.
“What an exciting day for our program,” head coach Bobby Petrino said. “I’m very happy for all the players who were selected over the last three days. To have a total of 10 players drafted, it’s a testament to the hard work these guys put in during their time at Louisville. I wish all these guys the best of luck, and thank them for all their contributions to our program. I look forward to watching them during their NFL careers.”
Sample, who attended Washington coming out of high school, spent one season with the Cardinals after joining the program from American River College in California. With the Cardinals, Sample, a 6-foot-2, 190-pounder, led the team in tackles with 90 and was second on the squad with four interceptions.
Having lost a pair of all-conference players, Sample stepped in and started all 13 games. He was credited with a career-best 15 tackles in a loss to No. 2 Florida State and totaled 14 stops and an interception against Clemson.
“Right now I’m not worried about that [earning starting job],” Sample said on Saturday. “I’m just ready to come in and compete, and if I end up getting a starting job, that’ll be a blessing. I’m just going to give the Jags everything I’ve got every single day.”
A 6-foot-5 outside linebacker, Mount was a relentless pass rusher after he made the move from defensive end this season. Playing all 13 games, Mount, who was credited with 9.5 sacks during his career, totaled a personal-high five sacks this season and a personal-best 37 tackles.
Appearing in 44 games, Mount registered 92 total tackles and 18.0 tackles for loss during his four-year career.
“I am really more of a speed guy,” Mount said on Saturday. “I think a lot of guys say I can go to power. A lot of guys say he’s small, but they don’t expect me to be as powerful as I am and I think that kind of overwhelms a lot of guys.”
A former wide receiver for the Cardinals, Gaines, a third-team all-ACC selection this season, made the transition to the cornerback position in 2013, and flourished over that span.
A first team all-American Athletic Conference pick in 2013, Gaines led the team with five interceptions, including a 70-yard interception return versus USF. During the same season, Gaines returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown versus FIU and scored on a blocked punt return versus Connecticut.
As a junior this season, Gaines, who declared early for the draft, tallied a career-best 38 tackles and totaled interceptions against Murray State and Notre Dame.
Dubose had his best year this season on one of the nation’s top defenses. Earning all-ACC honorable mention accolades, Dubose recorded 4.0 sacks and 41 tackles as a senior. He totaled a career-high eight tackles in the win over Boston College.
For his career, Dubose, who played in 44 games, was credited with 101 tackles and 7.5 sacks, while also registering 13.5 tackles for loss.
Holliman, who declared for the draft after his sophomore season, was the most decorated of the Cardinals’ picks. Winner of the Jim Thorpe Award, Holliman tied an NCAA record with 14 interceptions, and helped the Cardinals lead the country with 26 interceptions.
Hailing from Miami, Fla., Holliman recorded a career-best three interceptions in the win over Boston College and intercepted Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 1 overall pick Jameis Wnston twice in a loss to the Seminoles. A first-team all-ACC selection, Holliman was also a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award for the nation’s top defensive player.
A transfer from Florida, Christian spent two seasons with the Cardinals as the starter at tight end. A third team all-ACC honoree this year, Christian caught 28 passes for a career-best 428 yards and four touchdowns. He recorded 32 receptions for 394 yards and five scores in 2013.
In two seasons at Louisville, Christian caught 60 passes for 810 yards and nine scores, averaging 13.5 yards a catch.
Wide receiver DeVante Parker was taken on Thursday as the 14th overall selection (first round) by the Miami Dolphins.
The second day of the draft featured three Louisville selections: offensive tackle Jamon Brown was the No. 72 pick of the St. Louis Rams; offensive guard John Miller was No. 81 to the Buffalo Bills; and outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin went No. 82 to the New York Jets.