Six Former Tigers Sign Free Agent Contracts


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Clemson, SC-Six former Clemson football players, including five off
the 2002 team, have signed free agent contracts with National
Football League teams. The total does not include Nick Eason and
Bryant McNeal, who both were drafted in he fourth round of the NFL
draft on Sunday.


In addition to the seven members of the 2002 Clemson team
who will get tryouts with the NFL, 2001 team members T.J. Watkins
signed a free agent contract over the weekend with the Buffalo Bills.
Watkins was a starter at offensive tackle from 1999-01. He was one
of the last players cut by the Seattle Seahawks last season.

The 2002 Clemson team members who have signed free agent
contracts are Altroy Bodrick (Tampa Bay), Rodney Thomas (Cincinnati),
Gary Byrd (Buffalo), J.J. McKelvey (Tampa Bay) and Brian Mance
(Washington).

Bodrick started all 13 games for the Tigers in 2002 and had
65 tackles, sixth best figure on the Clemson team. He also had
seven tackles for loss. Thomas finished the year with 167 tackles
and ranked sixth in the nation on a per game basis. He tied for
second on the team in tackles for loss with nine. The senior from
Georgia was an Academic All-ACC performer this past season.

Byrd was a three-year starter and performed on four bowl
teams during his career. He played nearly 900 snaps in 2002, more
than any other Clemson offensive player. He started all 13 games
last year and 27 of 47 career games with the Tigers.

McKelvey, who will join Bodrick in Tampa Bay, led Clemson in
reception yards this past season with 785. He had a career high 52
catches as a senior and had a team best four reception touchdowns.

Mance finished second in the ACC in interceptions to freshman
teammate Justin Miller. He had six interceptions for the year and
12 for his career. He concluded the year with 62 tackles and a team
best 17 passes broken up. Mance was a fourth-team All-American in
2002.

In addition to the players listed above, Derrick Brantley is
also expected to sign with an NFL team this week.

Historically, Clemson players have had success in the NFL as
free agents. Over the years 27 former Clemson players who have
signed free agent contracts have played in the NFL. The list is led
by Jeff Bostic, who played 14 years in the NFL, more than any other
former Tiger in history. He won three Super Bowl Championship rings,
also a record for a former Tiger. In 2002, Woodrow Dantzler made the
Dallas Cowboys as a free agent. Current NFL tight end Lamont Hall
has played each of the last four seasons after signing as a free
agent.

Clemson Free Agent Signings for 2003
Player        	Pos	Team
Altroy Bodrick	LB	Tampa Bay Bucs
Rodney Thomas	LB	Cincinnati Bengals
Gary Byrd	OT	Buffalo Bills
J.J. McKelvey	WR	Tampa Bay Bucs
Brian Mance	CB	Washington Redskins
#T.J. Watkins	OT	Buffalo Bills
#Senior in 2001

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