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Middle Tennessee Has A Rich History Of Sending Defensive Backs To Professional Leagues

With the recent drafting of Kevin Byard by the Tennessee Titans, the long history of MTSU defensive backs playing at the next level continues.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders safety Kevin Byard did not have to wait very long at the 2016 NFL Draft to hear his name called. He was the first pick of the third round, selected by the Tennessee Titans with the #64 overall pick of the draft.

For those unaware of the history at MTSU, he is one of a large group of defensive backs that found success at the professional level after playing for the Blue Raiders.

Let's take a look at some of those players.

  • Marty Carter, Safety: 8th round draft pick (#207 overall) in 1991. 11 years in the NFL. Played for Tampa Bay (1991-1994), Chicago (1995-1998), Atlanta (1999-2001), and Detroit (2001). 868 career tackles, eight fumble recoveries, eight forced fumbles, 13 interceptions. 151 career games started including all 16 starts on five occasions.
  • Don Griffin, Cornerback: 6th round draft pick (#162 overall) in the 1986 NFL Draft. 11 years in the NFL. Played for for San Francisco (1986-1993), Cleveland (1994-1995), and Philadelphia (1996). Second team All-NFC in 1987 and 1990. First team All-NFC in 1989. 465 tackles, 12 fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles, 25 interceptions. 139 career games started including all 16 on five occasions.
  • James Griffin, Safety: Seventh round draft pick (#193 overall) in 1983. Seven years in the NFL. Played for Cincinnati (1983-1985) and Detroit (1986-1989). Four career fumble recoveries, 19 interceptions, three defensive touchdowns. 30 career games started and 108 overall games played.
  • Rod Issac, Cornerback: Fifth round draft pick (#147 overall) in 2011. Two years in the NFL. Played for Jacksonville. Spent two season in the NFL and saw action in three games, all in 2011. Did not accumulate any stats during those three games. Has been with the Arena Football League since 2013, playing for Tampa Bay (2013-2015) and Orlando (2015-present).
  • Ray Oldham, Cornerback: Eighth round draft pick (#189 overall) in 1973. 10 years in the NFL. Played for Baltimore (1973-1978), Pittsburgh (1978), New York Giants (1979), Detroit (1980-1982). Six fumble recoveries, 14 interceptions, two defensive touchdowns. 61 career games started including 10+ games started on three occasions.
  • Sammy Seamster, Cornerback: Undrafted free agent. Two years in the NFL. Played for Miami (2014) and Buffalo (2015-present). Saw action in three career games, but has yet to accumulate any career statistics.
  • Kevin Byard, Safety: Third round draft pick (#64 overall). Byard is the second highest draft pick from Middle Tennessee in school history. He is one of three Blue Raiders to go in the third round of the draft (Mike Caldwell and Jonathan Quinn). He is starting preparations for his first season in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans.
  • Alex Suber, DB: Undrafted free agent out of college. Five years in the Canadian Football League. Played for Winnipeg (2010-2013), Toronto (2014), and Saskatchewan (2015). Compiled 249 tackles, four interceptions, and six fumble recoveries.
  • Keon Raymond, DB: Undrafted free agent out of college. Signed with the Tennessee Titans as a free agent but did not make the team in 2006. Spent two seasons in the Arena Football League. Played for Nashville (2007) and New Orleans (2008). Spent nine seasons in the CFL. Played for Calgary (2008-2015) and Toronto (2016-present). Two time Grey Cup Champion. 24 career interceptions in the CFL.
  • Jeremy Kellum, Cornerback: Undrafted free agent out of college. Three years in the Arena Football League. Played for New Orleans (2012) and Arizona (2013-present). 363 total tackles, nine fumble recoveries, 35 interceptions.
  • Arness Ikner, DB: Undrafted free agent out of college. Three years in the Arena Football League. Played for Utah (2013) and Orlando (2014-present). 93 total tackles, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, four interceptions.

I am sure there is someone I forgot. Please let me know if there are any other players that need to be added to this list.