University of Washington

From Huskies to NFL rookies. A look at where UW's latest crop will spend rookie mini-camp

Defensive tackle Vita Vea will be in mini-camp with the Tampa Buccaneers after he was taken in the first round. Center Coleman Shelton, pictured left, signed a free agent deal with the Seahawks where he'll be paired with tight end Will Dissly.
Defensive tackle Vita Vea will be in mini-camp with the Tampa Buccaneers after he was taken in the first round. Center Coleman Shelton, pictured left, signed a free agent deal with the Seahawks where he'll be paired with tight end Will Dissly. jbessex@gateline.com

Technically speaking, they are still Washington Huskies who also are also about to embark on an NFL career.

UW watched five of its players go in last week's NFL Draft. As of Tuesday, the Huskies have a few more of its more recent alums sign as undrafted free agents with several NFL franchises. A total of eight players from last year's team that finished 10-3 and lost to Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl head to rookie mini-camp later this month.

Defensive tackle Vita Vea, as expected, was a first round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was followed by receiver and punt return specialist Dante Pettis, who also holds the NCAA record for most career punts returned for touchdowns with nine. Tight end Will Dissly is staying close to Montlake. He was taken by the Seahawks in the fourth round. Linebackers Azeem Victor and Keishawn Bierria were consecutive sixth-round selections. Victor was drafted by the Oakland Raiders while Bierria went to the Denver Broncos.

That's the lowdown on UW's draftees. So what about undrafted free agents like running back Lavon Coleman?

Coleman was one of a few undrafted free agents who found an NFL home. Coleman has signed with the Houston Texans. The 5-foot-11 and 235-pound rusher ran 374 times for 2,000 yards and 12 touchdowns in four seasons. The power runner also had 31 receptions for 252 yards and three touchdowns.

Venerable safety Ezekiel Turner signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Turner, who is 6-2 and 214 pounds, is coming off a career-high 55 tackles, three pass deflections and one interception. Turner played one year at L.A. Pierce College and then joined the Huskies prior to the 2015 season. He amassed 100 tackles, four pass deflections and two interceptions in three seasons.

Center Coleman Shelton will be reunited with Pettis as he signed with the 49ers. Shelton, who was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team in 2017, started all 13 games at center for the Huskies. The 6-4 and 299-pound Pasadena, Calif. native was part of a line that helped the Huskies finish with 37 rushing touchdowns, the 11th most in Football Bowl Subdivision play last season. He also was a reason why UW was able to play through the loss of star left tackle Trey Adams. The Huskies allowed 20 tackles which was tied for 32nd out of 130 FBS programs.

Andrew Kirkland, who alternated between guard and tackle, was also a key member of last year's line. That's why he'll be joining the Seahawks in camp. Kirkland, who is 6-4 and 321 pounds, played in all 13 games while making six starts for the Huskies. He played in a total of 40 games across four seasons at UW.

Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark
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