University of Toledo defensive tackle Treyvon Hester (Pittsburgh, Pa.) was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft on Saturday, the third Rockets to be taken in the draft. Earlier in the day, tight end Michael Roberts (Cleveland, Ohio) was chosen in the fourth round by Detroit. Running back Kareem Hunt (Cleveland, Ohio) was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round of the draft Friday night.
Hester, a 6-3, 300-pound defensive tackle, is a three-time All-MAC player who earned second-team honors in 2016. In his four-year college career, Hester totaled 153 tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks. He was selected to play in the East-West Shrine Game but had to sit out due to an injury.
Hester, the 244th pick of the draft. had been watching and waiting all day with friends and family until he finally got the call from Oakland.
“I was getting a little discouraged. It was getting late, almost the end of the draft,” said Hester. “When I finally got the call, my heart almost stopped. It was almost as exciting as if I was taken in the first round.
“I’m excited to be joining the Raiders. I don’t know a whole lot about the team, but I know about the history of the Raider mentality. I plan on working hard and always give it everything I have on the field.”
Hester, Hunt and Roberts are the first Rockets to be selected in the NFL Draft since John Greco and Jalen Parmele were selected in 2008. It is also the first time that three Rockets have been selected in the NFL Draft since the current seven-round format began in 1994. UT had three players drafted in 1968 and four taken in 1963, an era when the NFL Draft had as many as 20 rounds.
Hunt is Toledo's all-time leading rusher with 4,945 yards and a three-time All-MAC selection. He rushed for 866 yards a freshman, 1,631 yards as sophomore, 973 in an injury-filled junior year and 1,475 yards as a senior. His career-high rushing game came at the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl when he gained 271 yards in a 63-44 victory over Arkansas State on Jan. 4, 2015. Hunt also rushed for five TDs that game, tying a bowl record held by Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State.
"I was so happy when I got the phone call from Kansas City," said Hunt, who watched the draft in Cleveland with family and friends. "I was feeling a little nervous until then. I thought I might go in the second round. When that didn't happen, I figured I would go somewhere in the third round. I'm just very happy it all worked out. My mom is very happy. I've worked very hard for most of my life for this, so it just feels good."
Hunt said he excited to be going to Kansas City. He spoke at length head coach Andy Reid and running backs coach Eric Bieniemy at the NFL Combine. With the Chiefs recent releasing all-time rusher Jamaal Charles, an opportunity has opened up in their backfield.
"I think Kansas City is a great opportunity for me," said Hunt, who will report to a three-day mini-camp in Kansas City next week. "I feel like I can come in and contribute very early in my career, and the Chiefs told me they feel the same way."
Roberts caught 45 passes for 533 yards and led the nation’s tight ends with 16 touchdown receptions, eight more than the next-nearest tight end. A first-team All-America selection by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Roberts broke the Toledo record for touchdown catches in a season previously held by Lance Moore (14 in 2004). He shattered school record for TD receptions by a tight end, formerly held by Don Seymour (9 in 1973). A first-team All-MAC honoree, Roberts had three TD catches in one game against both Western Michigan and Bowling Green. He played in the 2017 Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game.
“It’s a moment I’ll never forget,” said Roberts, who watched the draft with friends and family. “I think my mom is still crying. It’s amazing. I’m just very happy right now.
“I thought I would go somewhere between the third and fifth rounds. I’m very happy with how it worked out. Detroit is a great opportunity for me. It’s probably the best possible situation for me. It’s also great that it’s so close to Toledo. I might be able to come back and watch some games this year.”
The selection of Hunt, Roberts and Hester in the draft represents a huge accomplishment for the players and the program, said UT head coach Jason Candle.
“The two biggest goals for our football program,” said Candle, “are to win a MAC Championship and help young men chase their dreams after graduation. For some of our players, reaching the NFL is a part of that. We are still working toward winning a championship, but this year’s draft is a step in the right direction.”