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April 23, 2005

Columbia, S.C. – Former South Carolina wide receiver Troy Williamson was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the seventh pick in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Williamson is the second Gamecock in as many years to be selected in the first round, as Dunta Robinson was picked by the Houston Texans with the 10th pick in the first round of last year’s draft.

Despite playing only three years at Carolina, Williamson left ranking third in school history with six 100-yard receiving games. His 835 receiving yards in 2004 marked the fourth-highest single-season total in school history. A big-play receiver, Williamson’s 19.4 yards per catch in 2004 stands as the fifth-highest mark ever for a Gamecock. As a junior, Williamson had six catches that were for 50 yards or more.

“Playing at South Carolina helped to get my mind right to play the best competition week in and week out,” Williamson said. “All the hard work and dedication is paying off. This is one of the best days of my life.”

Williamson was a 2004 first-team all-Southeastern Conference selection as voted by the Associated Press and was a second-team all-conference selection by the coaches after making 43 catches for 835 yards with seven touchdowns. His 75.9 receiving yards per game led the SEC. Making those figures that much more remarkable is the fact that the Carolina offense was primarily run-oriented prior to the arrival of current head coach Steve Spurrier.

The Jackson, S.C., native scored on a 65-yard touchdown pass against Georgia when he made a catch going over the middle, then spun off a would-be tackler at midfield and took off down the sideline for one of the highlight plays of the year. He came back the next game to set a single-game school-record with 210 receiving yards and three touchdowns against South Florida. Perhaps the most memorable play of Williamson’s junior season was a 19-yard game-winning touchdown catch in the back of the end zone with 1:28 left in Carolina’s 12-7 victory over Kentucky in Lexington.

“From what I’ve seen, he’s a player,” Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper said. “We’re going to take his talents and work them into the team and help him make the most of his potential. I think he’s going to fit in with the receivers we have and with the offense. The highlights I saw on him it looked like he caught the ball well and was able to break tackles after the first contact. I like that. It shows me he’s a winner.”

Williamson looks forward to joining Culpepper in Minnesota.

“I think it’s a great fit for me,” Williamson said. “They’ve got a great quarterback that can get the ball around. I believe it’s one of the great fits for me.”

As a sophomore in 2003, Williamson led the team with 31 catches for 428 yards and two touchdowns. He set an SEC record with a 99-yard touchdown reception in the Gamecocks’ 31-7 win over No. 15 Virginia by making a catch on a slant route and outrunning everyone to the end zone.

Williamson came to Carolina after winning back-to-back state high school championships at Silver Bluff HS and made his mark immediately as a freshman, making 17 catches for 491 yards (28.9 yards per catch) with four touchdowns. A Freshman All-America selection by The Sporting News, Williamson made a season-long 70-yard touchdown catch against Clemson, finishing that contest with four catches for 140 yards.

South Carolina Gamecocks Drafted in the First Round of the NFL Draft:Year    Player  Pos.    Team    Rd. Overall2005    Troy Williamson WR  Vikings 1   72004    Dunta Robinson   DB  Texans  1   102000    John Abraham    LB  Jets    1   131993    Ernest Dye  OT  Cardinals   1   181988    Sterling Sharpe WR  Packers 1   71981    George Rogers   RB  Saints  1   11981    Willie Scott    TE  Chiefs  1   141979    Rick Sanford    DB  Patriots    1   25
South Carolina Gamecocks Drafted Since 2000 (All Rounds):Year Player Pos. Team Rd. Overall2005 Troy Williamson WR Vikings 1 72004 Dunta Robinson DB Texans 1 10 Travelle Wharton OT Panthers 3 94 Deandre Eiland DB Vikings 6 1842003 Langston Moore DT Bengals 6 174 Corey Jenkins DB Dolphins 6 181 Andrew Pinnock RB Chargers 7 2292002 Kalimba Edwards DE Lions 2 35 Sheldon Brown DB Eagles 2 59 Andre Goodman DB Lions 3 68 Willie Offord DB Vikings 3 70 John Stamper DE Buccaneers 6 1932000 John Abraham LB Jets 1 13 Arturo Freeman DB Dolphins 5 152

In the first round of today’s National Football League Draft, 10 players from the Southeastern Conference were selected. They were:

#2 DOLPHINS - Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn#5 BUCCANEERS - Carnell Williams, RB, Auburn#7 VIKINGS - Troy Williamson, WR, South Carolina#9 REDSKINS - Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn#14 PANTHERS - Thomas Davis, FS, Georgia#17 BENGALS - David Pollack, DE, Georgia#20 COWBOYS - Marcus Spears, DE, LSU#21 JAGUARS - Matt Jones, WR, Arkansas#25 REDKINS - Jason Campbell, QB, Auburn#26 SEAHAWKS - Chris Spencer, C, Ole Miss

The 10 selections in the first round ties for the most SEC players selected in the first round of any NFL draft. In 1998, the SEC also had 10 players selected. During that draft, Tennessee’s Peyton Manning was the first choice of the Indianapolis Colts followed by Florida’s Fred Taylor (Jacksonville), Auburn’s Takeo Spikes (Cincinnati), Georgia’s Robert Edwards (New England), Tennessee’s Terry Fair (Detroit), Florida’s Mo Collins (Oakland), LSU’s Alan Faneca (Pittsburgh), Auburn’s Victor Riley (Kansas City), Ole Miss’ John Avery (Miami) and Tennessee’s Marcus Nash (Denver).

Since conference expansion in 1992, the SEC has had 79 players selected in the first round, an average of 5.6 players per season.