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Derrick Strait excelled on the football field while attending Lanier High School in Austin, Texas. While in high school, Strait was selected to the Texas Top 100 by the Houston Chronicle and a Max Emfinger National Top 500 selection. During his senior season he rushed for 1,439 yards and 17 touchdowns, and also threw three touchdowns. He had 118 tackles, 52 solo, one sack, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, 11 pass deflections and two interceptions on defense. He was an All-District standout as well as being selected to the All-CenTex team.
Strait received an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Oklahoma, where he was a four year starter at cornerback. Strait proved to be one of the best defenders in the nation winning the 2003 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award and the 2003 Bronko Nagurski Award for best defensive player in college football. He set school records at OU for consecutive starts (52), interception return yards (397) and pass breakups (52). In 2000, Strait was selected as the Big 12 Conference Defensive Newcomer of the Year by the Associated Press.
In 2002, Strait was a Paycom Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist, and consensus All-Big 12 first team. As a senior Derrick was an All-American, and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Derrick Strait was selected by the New York Jets in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft.
Strait spent two seasons as a backup defensive back. He bounced around the league for two years before being releases by the Carolina Panthers in 2007.
Strait then spent one year in the Arena Football League and one year in the Canadian Football League before retiring from professional football. Strait was named to the All Decade college football team by Sports Illustrated in 2009.
Terence Newman attended Salina High School Central in Salina, Kansas, where he excelled in football, basketball, track and baseball. He was an all-state Class 5A selection in football his senior year.
Newman attended Kansas State University, where he played football for the Kansas State Wildcats. As a senior in 2002, he was a consensus first-team All-American and the Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He won the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back, and was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation’s best defensive player. He finished his senior season with 44 tackles, 34 solo, five interceptions and 14 pass breakups.
Newman was also a star on special teams as a punt and kickoff returner. He scored 26 points and ranked third on the team with 754 all-purpose yards. In addition to football, Newman ran track for Kansas State. He won the Big 12 Conference 100 meter dash outdoor champion in 2001 and 2002, with times of 10.29 and 10.34. He also won the Big 12 Conference 60 meter dash in indoor competition with a time of 6.65. Newman also won the Big 12 Conference indoor co-performer of the year in 2002.
Terence Newman was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft.
In his rookie season, Newman started all 16 games, making seventy-six tackles, one sack and four interceptions. In the 2004 season, he started all sixteen games making 64 tackles and four interceptions. In the 2005 season,
Newman did not give up a single TD reception all season.
His finest season as a professional came in 2007. He was voted to the 2007 Pro Bowl after recording four interceptions, 50 total tackles, 1 touchdown, 3 forced fumbles, and 23 pass deflections. He was selected to his second Pro Bowl in 2009.
Roy Williams won the 2001 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award as a junior at the University of Oklahoma (OU). Williams was a three –year starter for the Sooners, and played a key role for the 2000 National Championship team.
In addition to the Thorpe Award, Roy won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top defensive player. Williams was a unanimous selection to both the All-American and All-Big 12 teams, and earned the 2001 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award.
Roy Williams was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft, with the eighth overall pick.
As a rookie, Williams played both safety positions and finished as the runner-up for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He played six seasons in Dallas before he signed a contract with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009.
Before his retirement in 2011, Williams had a stellar professional career. He was a five-time pro bowl selection and an All-Pro selection in 2003.
Jamar Fletcher won the 2000 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award as a consensus All-American cornerback for the University of Wisconsin. In 2000, Fletcher also was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
He set Big Ten records for career interception return yards (459) and interceptions returned for a touchdown (5).
Jamar Fletcher was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft.
Fletcher played professionally for the San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals until 2009.
Tyrone Carter was an outstanding high school football player at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, Florida. As a senior he was named the Miami Sun-Sentinel All-County defensive first-team and was a Miami Herald All-County offensive first-team selection as a running back, gaining 1,349 yards and scoring 23 touchdowns his senior year. Carter left Florida to attend the University of Minnesota after high school.
He was a first-team All-American in 1998 and a consensus first-team All-American in 1999. He also won the 1999 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back in college football, and was a finalist for the 1999 Bronko Nagurski Trophy which is given to the best defensive player in the country. Carter also earned the Carl Eller Award twice, given to the University of Minnesota defensive player of the year.
In 1998, Carter was named first team All-Big Ten conference by both the coaches and the media. During his college football career at Minnesota, he recorded 584 tackles, 414 solo, which are both NCAA division 1-A records.
Tyrone Carter was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.
Carter played 3 full seasons with the Vikings, and had 40 tackles in his rookie year. On April 14, 2003, Carter signed with the New York Jets, where he played one season and recorded career highs in tackles (88) and interceptions (2).
He then signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004 and played in Pittsburgh for six seasons, playing on two Super Bowl championship teams.
He signed with the Washington Redskins in 2010, and finished the 2010 season with the San Diego Chargers. He is retired from the NFL, and currently lives in Florida.
Antoine Winfield came out of Garfield High School in Akron, Ohio, and attended Ohio State University on an athletic scholarship. He became one of the nation’s top defensive backs while at Ohio State.
Winfield was a statistical and motivational leader for the Ohio State defense during his senior season. He accounted for 75 tackles and 15 pass break-ups, and was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American. He was also a two-time All-Big Ten selection, and finished his college career with 278 tackles, including 224 solo, 22 tackles for loss, 29 pass breakups and three interceptions.
He won the 1998 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back, and his coach, John Cooper, said he was one of the best defensive backs he has ever coached.
Antione Winfield was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft, with the 23rd overall pick.
Winfield played for the Bills from 1999 to 2003, but his professional career took off when signed a five-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings in 2003. He earned three straight Pro Bowl appearances in 2008, 2009 and 2010, and was named All-Pro in 2008.
He is regarded as one of the most physical corner backs in the league, known for his bone-jarring hits, and Sports Illustrated named him one of the top 31 players in the NFL today. His career totals include 953 tackles, 7 sacks, 24 interceptions and 14 forced fumbles.
Charles Woodson played cornerback, wide receiver and punt returner at the University of Michigan. He earned the Freshman of the Year Award in 1995, and first team All-American in 1996. Woodson became the third player from Michigan to win the Heisman Trophy in 1997.
During his junior season, Woodson led Michigan to the 1997 National Championship. He earned first team All-Big Ten for a third consecutive year and first team All-American for the second time. Woodson won the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award to top off a great junior season.
Charles Woodson was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft.
Woodson played professionally for the Raiders and Green Bay Packers. He retired as an Oakland Raider following the 2015 regular season.
Lawrence Wright was born in Miami, Florida, and attended North Miami High School and Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Wright received an athletic scholarship from the University of Florida in 1993. He led the Gators with 109 tackles as a junior in 1995.
During Wright's senior season in 1996, he served as a team captain and led the Gators to the 1996 Bowl Alliance national championship, by defeating the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles 52–20 in the 1997 Sugar Bowl. That same year, he also won the Jim Thorpe Award, recognizing the best defensive back in college football, and was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selection in 1995 and 1996. He finished his Gator career with 331 tackles, five interceptions, eight forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.
Lawrence Wright excelled in the classroom, as well as, earning SEC Academic Honor Roll for four consecutive years, and was a CFA Scholar-Athlete in 1996. He graduated from Florida with a bachelor's degree in building construction in 1997, and was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great" in 2007.
Lawrence Wright was undrafted in the 1997 NFL Draft, but signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as a free agent. He played in eighteen regular season games for the Bengals from 1997 – 1999.
Following his retirement from the NFL, Wright formed a construction and development company in South Florida, called Wright & Partners.
Greg Myers was a standout football player at Windsor High School in Windsor, Colorado. He attended Colorado State University, where he played for the Colorado State Rams football team. As a junior in 1994, Myers received first-team All-American honors from the Football Writers Association of America, Scripps-Howard, and The Sporting News.
As a senior in 1995, he won the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in the nation, and was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American after receiving first-team selections from the Associated Press, United Press International, the Walter Camp Foundation, and The Sporting News. In addition to his athletic achievements, Myers won the Honda Scholar-Athlete Leadership Award, and was a consensus Academic All-American. He was inducted into the Colorado State University Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
Greg Myers was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fifth round of the 1996 NFL Draft.
Following his five seasons in the NFL, Myers attended the University of Colorado Health Science Center Medical School. He is now an Anesthesiologist and Assistant Professor at Denver Health Medical Center.
Chris Hudson was born in Houston, Texas, and attended Worthing High School, where he excelled on the football field. Following high school, Chris left Texas for the University of Colorado at Boulder. He was a versatile defensive back who could play any position in the backfield and play it well.
Hudson was a consensus All-American safety at Colorado. He finished his college career second in interceptions and fifth in pass deflections on Colorado’s all-time charts.
Chris Hudson was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round of the 1995 NFL Draft.
Hudson played for the Jaguars from 1995 to 1998. He also was a member of the Chicago Bears in 1999, and after a year off in 2000, returned to the NFL in 2001 with the Atlanta Falcons.
During his six seasons in the NFL, he played in 77 regular season games, started in 63 of them, and compiled 11 interceptions.
Antonio Langham came out of Hazelwood High School in Town Creek, Alabama, as one of the top football recruits in the nation. Langham went on to become one of the best defensive backs to play at the University of Alabama. He earned All-American honors as a junior in 1993, and set the school record for career interceptions with 19, and scored five defensive touchdowns over the span of 43 games.
Langham would go on to finish his senior season as a consensus All-American. He won the 1993 Jim Thorpe Award, and was named one of the top 50 Greatest Players in Crimson Tide history in 2011.
Antonio Langham was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 1994 NFL Draft.
Langham played 6 years in the NFL. His best year as a pro came during the 1996 season as a member of the Baltimore Ravens when he intercepted five passes for 59 yards.
Deon Figures was an All-American cornerback for the University of Colorado. He captured the 1992 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back, and was named the Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year.
Also during the 1992 season, he set single game school records for punt returns (10), and punt return yards (167). Figures was a shutdown corner in college allowing only 12 passes caught against him in 1992.
Deon Figures was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the 1993 NFL Draft.
Figures played 6 years in the NFL.
Terrell Buckley was a two-year starter and three-year letterman at Florida State University. He set a school record for interceptions (21) and tied school records for defensive touchdowns (4) and special team touchdowns (3). Buckley went on to set a NCAA record for interception return yards (501). He was named a first team All-American in 1991, and finished 7th in the Heisman voting in 1991.
Buckley went on to win the 1991 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award, the second Seminole to do so following Deion Sanders in 1988.
In addition to football, Buckley played two years of varsity baseball and was a sprinter on the outdoor track team for one year. Buckley was inducted into the Florida State University Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.
Terrell Buckley was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the 1992 NFL Draft.
Buckley played 15 years in the NFL, and had at least one interception in 13 consecutive NFL games. He also won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots in 2002.
Buckley was named the Cornerbacks Coach at the University of Akron in January 2012 after serving as the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coordinator at Florida State. He currently serves as the Cornerbacks Coach at Mississippi State University.
Darryll Lewis attended high school at Nogales High School in La Puente, California, and excelled on the football field.
Following high school, Lewis attended the University of Arizona. As a senior, Lewis was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and consensus All-American. He had 49 tackles, broke up 11 passes, and intercepted seven passes for 192 return yards and two touchdowns. Lewis also excelled on special teams with 11 punt returns for 220 yards. He won the 1990 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award as a cornerback for the University of Arizona, the first of two Wildcats to take home the award.
Following his career at Arizona, Lewis was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers. He played 10 years in the NFL with the Oilers, Tennessee Titians, and San Diego Chargers.
Darryll Lewis was selected by the Houston Oilers (later the Tennessee Titans) in the second round of the 1991 NFL Draft with the 38th overall pick.
Lewis played ten years in the NFL with the Houston Oilers, Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers. He made the 1995 Pro-Bowl, and finished his professional career with 32 interceptions, for 555 return yards and 5 touchdowns. He also recorded 5 sacks and 8 fumble recoveries, which he returned for 139 yards and one touchdown.
Mark Carrier was a three-year letterman for the University of Southern California. As a junior, Carrier was named to the Playboy All-American team and became the first Trojan to win the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award. He was a two-time consensus All-American at USC and finished his collegiate career with 13 interceptions.
Mark Carrier was selected by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 1990 NFL Draft with the sixth overall pick.
Carrier played ten years in the NFL with the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins. He was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.
Deion Sanders was a three sport standout at Florida State University. As a freshman he started as a defensive back for the football team, played outfield for the baseball team and helped the track and field team win a conference championship.
Sanders was a consensus All-American in 1989 and 1987, and a third team All-American in 1988. He had 14 interceptions over his college career, three in bowl games. He won the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award in 1988, and was also one of the nation’s top punt returners, setting school records for career punt return yards.
Deion Sanders was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the first round of the 1989 NFL Draft with the fifth overall pick.
Sanders played 14 years in the NFL as a perennial All-Pro, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011. He also played professional baseball for nine years.
Bennie Blades came out of Piper High School in Sunrise, Florida, to attend the University of Miami. He went on to become a star safety for one of the nation’s top college football teams.
As a junior, Blades led the nation in interceptions (10), and was a consensus All-American as a senior. He led Miami to the 1987 national championship and was co-winner of the Jim Thorpe Award with Ricky Dixon from Oklahoma.
Blades finished his college career with 19 interceptions for 305 yards along with 286 tackles, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Bennie Blades was selected by the Detriot Lions in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft with the third overall pick. Blades was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1991, and receiving First-Team All-NFL and First-team All-NFC honors. He was the Lions’ Defensive MVP in 1992 and led the team with 132 tackles in 1996, which was one of three 100-tackle seasons he had in Detroit. During his time with the Lions, Blades was considered one of the most physical defensive backs in the NFL, even playing as a linebacker in certain passing situations. He was a key component to the Lions’ defense that helped the team claim two NFC Central titles, and a berth in the 1992 NFC Championship game. He was a defensive captain for five years in Detroit and his 815 career tackles place him second on the Lions’ all-time list.
Ricky Dixon came out of Dallas, Texas and became a standout defensive back at the University of Oklahoma (OU), playing both cornerback and safety. He won All-Conference honors in 1986 and 1987, and was a consensus All-American in 1987. He played in the 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988 Orange Bowls, and was a key figure in OU’s 1985 National Championship.
Dixon was co-winner of the 1987 Jim Thorpe Award with Miami’s Bennie Blades. He finished his college career with 170 tackles and 17 interceptions. During his senior season Dixon had nine interceptions for 232 yards, a school record.
Rickey Dixon was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft with the fifth overall pick. Dixon played six years in the NFL on defense and special teams for both the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Raiders.
Thomas Everett was a standout athlete at Daingerfield High School in Daingerfield, Texas. He excelled on the gridiron playing seven positions including quarterback, over the course of his high school career. His football number hangs today in the school’s field house as a testament to his legacy on the football field.
Following high school, Everett attended Baylor University to play under College Football Hall of Fame coach Grant Teaff. By the mid-way point of his freshman season, Everett was starting at cornerback. He opened his sophomore year at corner, but was moved to safety in the second game of the season. Everett became a dominate force at safety accounting for 99 tackles his sophomore year. During his junior season he became one of the best defensive backs in the nation earning All-American honors and first-team All-Conference honors. He was voted the conference’s Athlete of the Year, and ranks among Baylor’s top ten in career interceptions (12), tackles (325). In addition to being a fine defensive back, Everett was a major contributor on special teams, leading his team in punt return yards three times. He was a leader during one of the program's most successful eras, as Baylor won 30 games and appeared in three bowl games during his career.
He was named to Baylor's All-Decade of the 1980s Team and to the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame. Thomas Everett finished his college career as the first-ever winner of the Jim Thorpe Award in 1986 as the nation’s top defensive back, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Thomas Everett was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 4th round of the 1987 NFL Draft. Everett played in Pittsburgh for 5 seasons. He was a top notch safety when he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in 1992. He was one of the most important trades made during the Jimmy Johnson era, and helped to solidify the team's defensive backfield. He was a member of back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams in Dallas, and had two interceptions in Super Bowl XXVII, a 52-17 rout of the Buffalo Bills. After a pro bowl season in 1993 Everett signed as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played there for 2 seasons before retiring.
He currently serves as the Performance Director of Thomas Everett Athletics, a sports enhancement program formed to provide competent sports performance training to athletes ages 8 years and up. He is also the Head Football Coach at Episcopal School of Dallas in Dallas, Texas.