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Volume 69, Issue 135, Friday, April 23, 2004


Pair of Cougars could hear names on draft day

Hadnot, Middleton likely taken; Pritchett, Cola also have chance

by Christian Schmidt
The Daily Cougar

Football fans around the country will be eagerly awaiting the start of the NFL Draft at 11 a.m. Saturday. For two Cougars and their families and friends, Sunday might be a more interesting time.

Offensive lineman Rex Hadnot and wide receiver Brandon Middleton both have a good chance to be selected in the league's entry draft, though only Hadnot might have a chance to slip into the top three rounds. The first three rounds will be Saturday while the final four will be Sunday. The entire draft will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN2.

Nathan Lindstrom/The Daily Cougar
Offensive lineman Rex Hadnot, a four-year starter at guard and center for Houston, has the best chance to be drafted among the Cougar seniors.

Hadnot, a guard/center who started four years for Houston, might have a chance to slip into Saturday's portion. Some experts have said the 6-2, 320 pound behemoth might be a third-round pick, though the consensus seems to be that he is more likely to be a late-round pick.

His versatility may serve him well. Hadnot played guard his first three years at UH before stepping into the center role as a senior. His ability to play both positions may make him a more attractive commodity for teams looking for a backup lineman. Hadnot is considered a strong passblocker, though his athleticism has been questioned on downfield blocking assignments.

Middleton, on the other hand, will most likely be playing the waiting game. 

The senior had a huge year, garnering Conference USA First Team honors and setting a C-USA record for receiving yards in a season with 1,250. He also pulled in 14 touchdowns and had a gaudy 22.7 yards per catch average.

But less than ideal physical stats and a lack of blazing speed have lowered his value in the eyes of talent evaluators. Middleton is only 5-10, below ideal for an NFL receiver, and ran a 4.5 second 40-yard dash, a good, but not great, time. He will likely have to wait until late on Sunday to hear his name called or sign with a team as an undrafted free agent.

Two other Cougars have at least a small chance of being drafted and could otherwise go to training camp with an NFL team as an undrafted free agent. Tight end Jonathan Pritchett and cornerback Roland Cola are both considered long shots but both will have a chance.

Pritchett is a 6-3, 245 pound tight end with solid blocking skills and some ability in the passing game. Cola, a 5-9, 175 pound cornerback has below average size for his position and ran a 4.61-second 40, also less than ideal, though Cola showed a knack for making plays last season.

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