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2020 NFL Draft Recap: Conference USA gets 10 players selected

Conference USA had a strong showing with 10 selections in the 2020 NFL draft

Marshall v Charlotte Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The 2020 NFL Draft saw 10 Conference USA players selected with FIU, Charlotte, Marshall, and Louisiana Tech leading the league with two selections each. Southern Miss and Florida Atlantic rounded out the selections with one player drafted.

Charlotte DE/LB Alex Highsmith was the first C-USA player to be chosen as he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round (102nd overall).

NFL Combine - Day 5
Highsmith was invited to this year’s NFL combine.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The 6-3, 245-pound former walk-on had 40 tackles for loss over the past two seasons, including 21.5 this past season which ranked him fourth among FBS players. He was named as an Associated Press third-team All-American for his efforts in 2019 and leaves as the program's all-time sack leader.

For the 49ers, Highsmith’s selection means the program has had a third-round selection in three of the previous four drafts.

Offensive lineman Cameron Clark was the second Niner selected, going to the New York Jets with the 129th selection in the fourth round.

Clark was a fixture at left tackle for the Niners.
Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Clark was a three-year starter and leaves Charlotte as the school-record holder in games played with 49. He was named to Conference USA’s first-team all-conference in 2019 and made the second-team in 2018.

FIU quarterback James Morgan was the first Panther off the board as he was chosen in the fourth round (125th overall) by the New York Jets.

The 6-5, 228-pound Morgan set the program-record for touchdown passes in a season (26) in 2018 and led the Panthers to consecutive bowl game appearances during his two seasons in Miami.

NCAA Football: East-West Shrine Game
Morgan had a strong week during the East-West Shrine practices which significantly helped his draft stock.
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

He also becomes the second consecutive FIU starting quarterback to be drafted, following former Panther Alex McGough who was chosen in the seventh round by Seattle in 2017.

Cornerback Stantley Thomas-Oliver was the second FIU selection being chosen by the Carolina Panthers with the seventh round (221st pick).

Camellia Bowl - FIU v Arkansas State
Stantley Thomas-Oliver turned into one of the top cornerbacks in Conference USA.
Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

Beginning his career as a wide receiver, Thomas-Oliver switched to defensive back prior to the 2018 season and was a two-year starter on the defensive side of the ball. After earning an all-conference honorable mention in 2018, he was named as a second-team performer in 2019.

Louisiana Tech safety L’Jarius Sneed was the first Bulldog selected in the fourth round (138th pick) to the Kansas City Chiefs. Sneed’s draft prospects were boosted by a 4.37 40-yard-dash time at this year’s NFL combine.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Southern Miss at Louisiana Tech
L’Jarius Sneed was a consistent playmaker for the Bulldogs.
Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

During his Tech career, Sneed played corner during his first three seasons before moving to safety as a senior. He had 177 tackles and eight interceptions in his collegiate career.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Southern Miss at Louisiana Tech
Amik Robertson was a ball-hawk during his three seasons at La Tech.
Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the next selection, Tech standout Amik Robertson was selected by the Las Vegas Raiders with the 139th pick. Widely considered the best defensive back in Conference USA during his three seasons in Ruston, Robertson racked up 184 tackles, 14 interceptions, 34 pass breakups, and three defensive touchdowns as a Bulldog.

Middle Tennessee v Florida Atlantic
Bryant leaves Boca Raton as arguably the most decorated Owl in program-history.
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Florida Atlantic tight end Harrison Bryant was chosen by the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round (115th pick). The Mackey Award winner as the nation’s top tight end was the first tight end in C-USA history to top 1,000 receiving yards in a season, with his 65 catches for 1,004 yards last season.

He was also named as a unanimous All-American in 2019 and was a two-time all-conference first-team performer in C-USA.

Southern Miss wide receiver Quez Watkins was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 6th round (200th pick). The Athens, AL native was one of the most dynamic playmakers during his time in Conference USA.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 17 Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss
Watkins spent the majority of his time in C-USA racing through opposing defenses.
Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

He led the Golden Eagles in all major receiving categories over the past two seasons and topped C-USA in receiving yards last season with 1,178.

Marshall kicker Justin Rohrwasser was selected by the New England Patriots in the 5th round (159th overall). Rohrwasser connected on 33 of 42 career attempts during his time in C-USA.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 26 Western Kentucky at Marshall
Rohrwasser possesses a big leg that helped the Herd sink Western Kentucky last season.
Photo by Steve Roberts/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

He set his career-high in nailing a game-winning 53-yard field goal to beat Western Kentucky when the two teams met last season.

The final C-USA player selected in this year’s draft was Marshall defensive back Chris Jackson who was chosen in the seventh round (243th pick).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 23 Gasparilla Bowl - UCF v Marshall
Jackson was a constant presence in the defensive backfield for the Thundering Herd.
Photo by Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Tallahassee, Florida native was a four-year starter for the Thundering Herd and played both safety and cornerback. He tallied 189 tackles, 45 pass breakups and seven interceptions during his career.