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Coleman Nearly Calls It a Day Before Raiders Give Him a Call

April 22, 2002|CHRISTINA TELLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Kenyon Coleman had waited all his football-playing life for this day. But nearly three hours into the broadcast of the second day of the 2002 NFL draft, the UCLA defensive end still had not been selected, so he turned off the TV. He needed a break.

Minutes later his phone rang. It was an Oakland Raider representative, who told Coleman the team had selected him in the fifth round (No. 147 overall).

"It was a really nice surprise to get picked up by them," Coleman said. "When I went to combines, Oakland didn't really talk to me, but I really like the way things turned out. I'm just ready to go in and give it my best."

Coleman, a fifth-year senior, had been projected as a third or fourth-round selection after leading UCLA with 81/2 sacks. He had returned from a serious knee injury that had sidelined him for most of the 2000 season.

The defensive line is a concern for the Raiders, who ranked 24th against the run and were further weakened by the substance abuse-related suspension for the 2002 regular season of defensive tackle Darrell Russell--a former USC player and the No. 2 overall pick in 1997.

Said Raider Coach Bill Callahan of the 6-foot-5, 285-pound Coleman:

"He's strong, explosive and has completeness in his game. [He] can play end on a normal down situation and [there's a] possibility of moving inside to provide pass rush in the third-down situation."

Three of Coleman's teammates, linebacker Robert Thomas, running back DeShaun Foster and safety Marques Anderson were selected Saturday. Thomas was a first-round selection (No. 31) by St. Louis, Foster was taken three picks later by Carolina and Anderson went to Green Bay in the third round (No. 92).

Two other Bruins, tight end Bryan Fletcher and long snapper Jeff Grau, were selected Sunday. Fletcher, who had 11 catches for 189 yards and a touchdown last season, was taken by Chicago in the sixth round (No. 210) and Grau was a seventh-round pick (No. 230) by Washington.

Cornerback Chris Cash became the second USC player taken in the draft, going to Detroit in the sixth round (No. 175). Cash had 47 tackles and two interceptions before suffering a broken leg in the Trojans' ninth game. Another USC cornerback, Kris Richard, was selected Saturday in the third round (No. 85) by Seattle.

Other players from Southern California who were selected Sunday:

* Linebacker Kevin Bentley (fourth round, No. 101 by Cleveland out of Northwestern and Montclair High).

* Defensive tackle Alan Harper (fourth round, No. 121 by the New York Jets out of Fresno State and Fontana High).

* Safety Sam Brandon (fourth round, No. 131 by Denver out of Nevada Las Vegas and Riverside North High).

* Wide receiver Terry Charles (fifth round, No. 142 by San Diego out of Portland State and Long Beach Wilson High).

* Linebacker Scott Fujita (fifth round, No. 143 by Kansas City out of California and Oxnard Rio Mesa High).

* Running back Larry Ned (sixth round, No. 197 by Oakland out of San Diego State and Moreno Valley Rancho Verde).

* Running back Brian Allen (sixth round, No. 204 by Indianapolis out of Stanford and La Verne Damien High.

* Safety Steve Smith (seventh round, No. 246 by Jacksonville out of Oregon and San Pedro High).

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