DSU, UD products selected in NFL Draft

Rodney Gunter wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine ahead of the NFL Draft.

But the Delaware State University product’s NFL dream is now a reality.DSU Rodney Gunter

In a move that caught even Gunter, a defensive lineman, off guard, the Arizona Cardinals selected him Sunday afternoon in the fourth round on the third day of the draft with the No. 116 overall pick.

“I’m very surprised,” said Gunter on a conference call with reporters. “I was projected to go in the later rounds. God blessed me to be in a position to go in the fourth round. It’s a blessing, a dream come true.”

Gunter wasn’t the only player with Delaware ties drafted on Saturday.

University of Delaware tight end Nick Boyle was picked in the fifth round, No. 171 overall, by the Baltimore Ravens. Angelo Blackson, a former Red Lion Christian Academy star who is from Bear, was drafted with the 100th pick, the first of the fourth round, by the Tennessee Titans out of Auburn University.

Gunter is DelState’s highest draft pick since receiver John Taylor was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round in 1986. The last time the Hornets had a player selected was in 2001 when wide receiver Darnerien McCants was taken by the Washington Redskins.

Delaware State was the only school who offered Gunter a scholarship when he graduated from Haines City High in Florida.

There’s a good reason for that. Gunter only played a year of high school football as he spent most of his time working as a waiter or dishwasher to help support his single mother.

“I had to help my mom out,” Gunter said. “She was a single parent, struggling, and I was the oldest boy out of three boys and I had to get a job. … I had to make ends meet.

“I eventually played my senior year in high school. I loved the game so much, it was killing me that I was not playing football.”

The Cardinals traded up for the chance to pick Gunter. They had to part with a fourth round pick, a sixth round pick and a seventh rounder for Gunter’s draft slot.

Gunter said the Cardinals project him as playing on the outside of the defensive line on first and second down. He said they want to use him on the inside to help push the pocket on third and fourth downs in pass situations.

“I’m not coming in complacent,” Gunter said. “I’m coming in a hard worker, coming in with the mind set of a free agent trying to make the roster.”

Boyle is the first UD player drafted since center Gino Gradkowski was selected by the Ravens in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. Gradkowski played three seasons with the Ravens before being traded to the Denver Broncos this off-season.

Delaware tight end Nick Boyle is projected as a fifth or sixth-round pick in this weekend's NFL Draft (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell).

Delaware tight end Nick Boyle went to the Baltimore Ravens in the fifth round of the NFL Draft (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell).

He’ll join another former Blue Hen in Baltimore, Joe Flacco who was taken in the first round of the 2008 draft. Boyle is also the first Delaware tight end to be picked since Ben Patrick was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the seventh round in 2007.

Boyle, recruited to Delaware by former coach K.C. Keeler, became the first non-transfer drafted from UD since receiver Jamin Elliott in 2002. He’s the fourth-highest drafted UD player in school history, behind Flacco, Gradkowski and quarterback Rich Gannon (by New England) the fourth round in 1987 and fifth-rounder running back Dan Reeder (by the Los Angeles Raiders) in 1985.

Boyle impressed the Ravens with his performance at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. according to assistant general manager Eric DeCosta.

“We went down to Mobile and he competed very well, had a great week of practice, looked athletic, blocked extremely well,” DeCosta told the Ravens official website. “He’s built strong. He’s an NFL body tight end. He’s a point of attack tight end and it’s hard to find those guys.”

Staff writer Tim Mastro can be reached at tmastro@newszap.com or 741-8224.

Follow @TimMastroDSN on Twitter.

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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