|'GIANT' STEP: USC cornerback Terrell Thomas, shown here after defeating UCLA last year, was taken in the second round by the New York Giants. The Rancho Cucamonga-born Thomas joins former teammate Steve Smith in the Big Apple.|
Amidst the 252 players taken in this year’s NFL Draft, six local players heard their name called in recognition of their outstanding careers.
USC defensive end Lawrence Jackson started it off as a first round selection by the Seattle Seahawks with the 28th pick. The Inglewood High product started 51 out of 52 games during his career and finished his senior season as a second team All-American
The second round saw Jackson’s teammates, offensive guard Chilo Rachal (Dominguez) and cornerback Terrell Thomas (Rancho Cucamonga), selected by San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants, respectively.
Rachal, an all Pac-10 first team selection, declared for the draft a year earlier primarily to assist his ailing mother, who was diagnosed with a stomach tumor after the season.
Thomas, a two-time Pac-10 second team selection, will join former USC teammate Steve Smith on the Super Bowl champions roster.
In Fontana, Thomas and his family gathered his uncle house and when the family heard the news, they were overjoyed.
“It’s unexplainable,” Thomas’ mother Teresa said, her voice hoarse as she tried to recap that joyous moment, one Terrell had predicted when he was 10 years old.
“God has been faithful to us and you couldn’t ask for a better organization to go to. He’s going from one winning team to another,” she said, adding that she’ll be watching every game live from town to town.
All three were among the 10 Trojans taken during the draft, the most of any school this year and four shy of the all-time record, 14, held by USC in 1975 and 1977.
Also selected in the second round was Cal wide receiver/punt returner DeSean Jackson, formerly of Long Beach Poly. Jackson was thought by many to be a first-round selection, but in a surprise, he fell to the Philadelphia Eagles as the 49th overall pick.
Some analysts may have questioned Jackson’s size – 6’0 and 178 pounds – as a limiting factor, but with his undeniable speed and playmaking ability, he could find success in similar fashion to Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith
In the fourth round, Arizona State cornerback Justin Tryon was selected by the Washington Redskins. The former Taft High School running back was an All-City selection at running back but it was his speed that earned him acclaim as an All-American track star.
The 5-foot-9 Tryon, who was an All-American and national champion at College of the Canyons prior to transferring to ASU, was an all Pac-10 second team selection despite having to cover bigger receivers.
The seventh and final round saw USC tailback Chauncey Washington (South Torrance) go to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Washington’s story is one of perseverance for future athletes.
Despite coming into USC in 2003 as the eighth-based prospect in the nation according to Rivals.com, Washington was academically ineligible for the 2004 and 2005 season. Instead of giving up, he remained determined and would lead the team in rushing his final two seasons despite battling several injuries and sharing time in the Trojans backfield.