By Hutchinson CC Sports Information
After the completion of the 2022 NFL Draft on Saturday, four former Hutchinson Community College football players were selected by NFL teams as undrafted free agents.
Linebacker Caliph Brice (Florida Atlantic), tight end Leroy Watson (UT-San Antonio), defensive linemen Clarence Hicks (UT-San Antonio) and offensive lineman Jason Poe (Mercer) all played for the Blue Dragons in 2017 and 2018.
Along with first-round draft pick Devante Wyatt, who the Green Bay Packers selected with the 28th overall pick on Thursday, five total Blue Dragons were selected by NFL teams in this draft season. That’s the second-most players selected in one draft season in Blue Dragon football history. Seven Blue Dragons – three drafted players and four UDFAs – were selected in the 2017 draft season.
Since 1967, 39 Blue Dragon players have either been drafted or selected as an undrafted free agent.
– Green Bay Packers
Brice was a two-year starting linebacker for the Blue Dragons in 2017 and 2018.
He was a second-team all-Jayhawk Conference selected in 2018. Playing in 12 games, Brice had 71 tackles, including 1.5 quarterback sacks. He also had two blocked kicks on special teams. Brice played in 11 games in 2017 and recorded 51 total tackles with 1.5 quarterback sacks, an interception and fumble recovery.
Brice played in 30 games at Florida Atlantic in 2019, 2020 and 2021. He collected 141 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Brice also had three fumble recoveries, two passes defended, a forced fumble and interception. Brice earned Conference USA Honorable Mention honors in 2021.
Brice is the fourth Blue Dragon to sign or be drafted by the Packers … Kevin Barry (UDFA 2002), Angelo Pease (UDFA 2013) and Wyatt (first round 2022).
– Atlanta Falcons
Watson was a two-year starting tight end for the Blue Dragons in 2017 and 2018. Watson was a two-time all-Jayhawk Conference player, earning honorable mention honors in 2017 and first-team honors in 2018.
After two years at Hutchinson, Watson was listed by several recruiting sites as one of the nation’s top tight end. Watson caught six passes for 88 yards and a touchdown in 2018. He had six receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown as a freshman in 2017.
Playing three seasons at tight end at UTSA, Watson caught 25 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns in 37 games played. Watson played on three bowl-qualifying teams and the 2022 Roadrunners were Conference USA Champions.
Watson is the fourth Blue Dragon to sign or be drafted by the Falcons … Mack Herron (sixth round 1970), De’Vondre
Campbell (fourth round 2014) and Tyler Williams (UDFA 2017). Watson will also be joining former Blue Dragon Cordarrelle Patterson, who signed with the Falcons before the 2021 season.
– Cincinnati Bengals
A defensive tackle who played for the Blue Dragons in 2017 and 2018. Playing sparingly in 2017, Hicks started in 11 games in 2018. He earned second-team all-Jayhawk Conference honors in 2018. He registered 42 total tackles, including 14 quarterback sacks and 23 tackles for loss. He had 42 total tackles in his Blue Dragon career, which included two forced fumbles and two passes broken up.
This past season at UTSA, Hicks was a first-team All-Conference USA honoree and was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Week twice in 2021 as an outside linebacker. Over his three seasons at UTSA, Hicks had 108 total tackles with 31 tackles for loss and 12.5 quarterback sacks. Hicks also had seven passes broken up, two interceptions and three forced fumbles.
Hicks is the fourth Blue Dragon to sign or be drafted by the Bengals … Aaron Manning (UDFA 1987), Mario Monds (sixth round 1999) and Antonio Longino (UDFA 2016).
– San Francisco 49ers
While with the Blue Dragons in 2017, Poe was a running back. He played in four games and rushed for 18 yards.
Originally after playing at Hutchinson, Poe transferred to Lenoir Rhyne College before winding up at Mercer University. At Lenoir Rhyne, he was a two-time all-South Atlantic Conference player and an NCAA Division II All-American as an offensive lineman in 2019.
Finishing his collegiate career at Mercer, Poe played in all nine games in 2021. He is the first Mercer player to either be drafted or selected as an undrafted free agent in that program’s history.
Poe is the third Blue Dragon to sign with the 49ers … Arland Bruce (UDFA 2000) and David Dixon (UDFA 2005).