Mitch Wilcox

Undrafted locals find NFL homes

College Football Football General NFL

Three former area standouts were selected in the NFL Draft — Justin Strnad (East Lake/Wake Forest), Isaiah Rodgers (Blake/UMass) and Sterling Hofrichter (Armwood/Syracuse). That left plenty of other  locals who had to wait a little longer before signing as undrafted free agents. Here is the list of those who have signed so far. 

TE Mitch Wilcox, Cincinnati Bengals

High school: Tarpon Springs 

College: USF

USF’s Mitch Wilcox, a former standout at Tarpon Springs, spent the past weekend waiting to see his name scroll across the television as an NFL Draft pick.

It was hard for his neighbors in Tarpon Springs not to know Wilcox was a possible selection considering the banner that was placed on the side of the house.

For three days, Wilcox waited. The call never came. As an undrafted free agent, he spent the past two days fielding calls from teams before signing with the Bengals. Soon after, the family celebrated.

The four-year starter is regarded as the best tight end in Bulls history. He set nearly every school record at the position, including career marks for receiving yards (1,326), receptions (100) and receiving touchdowns (11). Those numbers helped him become a Mackey Award candidate each of the last three seasons.

Mitch Wilcox
Mitch Wilcox/Photo credit (including feature above): USF athletics

More than just a dependable receiver, Wilcox routinely showed off his blocking ability and helped three USF rushers to 1,000-yard seasons (2016-18). He played in three bowl games, winning two, and was a three-time all-AAC selection. Wilcox also earned invitations to play in the East-West Shrine Game and take part in the NFL Combine. 

RB Tony Jones Jr., New Orleans Saints

High school: St. Petersburg Catholic/IMG

College: Notre Dame

The sturdy back was one of the first players the Saints signed as an undrafted free agent. A heralded high school prospect, Jones played in the Army All-American Game before heading to South Bend. He improved his rushing total each of the last three seasons with the Irish.

As a senior, Jones became the 10th player in school history to have at least five 100-yard rushing games in one season, including a career-high 176 yards in a win over rival Southern California. He followed that with a 135-yard performance in a win over Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl, including an 84-yard touchdown that set the school record for the longest run in a bowl game. He finished this past season with 857 yards rushing and six touchdowns.

WR George Campbell, New York Jets

High school: East Lake

College: FSU/West Virginia

Campbell, who spent four seasons at FSU, was a five-star recruit and the No. 3 receiver prospect in the class of 2015, according to 247Sports. In three seasons with the Seminoles (he redshirted in 2016), Campbell battled through numerous injuries and finished with 13 career catches for 206 yards. His best season was in 2017 when he had six catches for 122 yards. Campbell announced in February of last year that he would become a graduate transfer. He initially planned on going to Penn State, but changed his plans, opting to spend his final season in college at West Virginia. Campbell joined a Mountaineers offense that lost its top three receivers from last season.

CB Isaiah Brown, Buffalo Bills

High school: Tampa Bay Tech

College: FIU

This past weekend, Brown did not get the birthday present he wanted after being bypassed in the NFL draft. Still, it didn’t take long for him to get picked up. By signing with the Bills, Brown joins two other locals already on the roster: Ray-Ray McCloud (Sickles/Clemson) and Mike Love (Countryside/USF). Another area standout, Brandon Walton (Seminole/FAU), signed with the team as an undrafted free agent. As a senior at FIU this past season, Brown recorded 44 tackles and two interceptions.   

Brandon Walton
Brandon Walton/Photo credit: FAU Athletics

OL Brandon Walton, Buffalo Bills

High school: Seminole

College: FAU

The local list of Bills players grew with the addition of Walton as an undrafted free agent. The left tackle spent last season helping quarterback Chris Robison put up impressive stats thanks to solid protection. Walton was a first-team All-Conference USA selection and the leader of a line that was a big reason the Owls and their high-octane offense won a conference title. In the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl, Walton was part of a line that allowed just one sack and paved the way for 521 yards of offense. 

DB Christian Angulo, New York Giants

High school: East Bay

College: Hampton

The former East Bay standout went on to have a productive college career. Angulo was the defensive MVP of the Chicago Football Classic thanks to his five pass breakups, three tackles and one interception that helped his team beat Howard.  He finished fifth in Division I-AA with 14 pass breakups this past season. Angulo was also named to the Big South All-Academic team, and was a second team All-Big South Conference selection.

OL Jackson Dennis, Arizona Cardinals

High school: Jesuit

College: Holy Cross

One of the anchors on Holy Cross’ line the past three seasons who helped the offense put up big numbers in the Patriot League. He joins Mason Cole (East Lake/Michigan) as the locals on the Cardinals’ line.

RB Napoleon Maxwell, Chicago Bears

High school: Admiral Farragut

College: FIU

After missing two season due to injury, Maxwell returned and became a dependable back, rushing for than 470 yards in each of his last three seasons. As a junior, he led the Panthers rushing attempts (128), yards (684) and touchdowns (7). This past season, Maxwell capped off his college career by rushing for 675 yards and tying for the team in touchdowns with nine.