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April 25, 2013

NFL Draft Begins Tonight

The 2012 FIU football team looks to have its place in school history during the upcoming NFL Draft with one of its own projected to be the program's highest player selected, in addition to possibility of multiple Panthers being selected over the three-day event.

The 2013 NFL Draft, live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, returns to primetime, with the first round taking place Thursday, April 25 at 8 p.m. ET, followed by the second and third rounds on Friday, April 26 at 6:30 p.m. ET. Rounds 4-7 will be held Sat., April 27 at 12 p.m. ET. Both ESPN and the NFL Network will have all three rounds of the Draft live.

Safety Johnathan Cyprien is widely projected to be selected at a position that would place him as the highest drafted player in program history, either the second half of the first round or top of the second round.

Former FIU All-American T.Y. Hilton presently stands as FIU's highest NFL Draft pick, with his third round (92nd overall) selection in the 2012 Draft.

FIU football once again has a chance to see multiple players selected in the same draft with defensive lineman, projected at linebacker, Tourek Williams and offensive tackle Caylin Hauptmann also listed among the top prospects.

The 2007 NFL Draft stands as the only other time multiple FIU players were selected in the same year. In 2007, Antwan Barnes (Baltimore, fourth round, 134th overall) and Chandler Williams (Minnesota, seventh round, 233rd overall) both made history as the first pair of Panthers to get drafted. The lone other Panther drafted was Anthony Gaitor by Tampa Bay in 2011 with the 222nd overall selection in the seventh round.

Several mock drafts have Cyprien listed among the first round potentials: The NFL Network's Gil Brandt (No. 29 to New England), Josh Norris (No. 21 to Cincinnati) and Daniel Jeremiah (No. 26 to Green Bay); CBSSports.com's Rob Rang (No. 31 to San Francisco), Pete Prisco (No. 21 to Cincinnati), Clark Judge (No. 32 to Baltimore) and Will Brinson (No. 31 to San Francisco).

The free agent wire will also be active for former FIU standouts as over 20 seniors graduated following the 2012 season and had impressive Pro Day workouts in front of 32 professional franchises this past March, including Tevin Blanchard, Josh Brisk, Rupert Bryan, Jr., Jose Cheeseborough, Kenneth Dillard, Joshua Forney, Winston Fraser, Chuck Grace, Jack Griffin, Jeremiah Harden, Jordan Hunt, David Istanich, Mike Jean-Louis, Paul Lungren, Mitch MacClugage, Darian Mallary, Andrew Mattox, Junior Mertile, Andre Pound, Giancarlo Revilla, Shae Smith, Wayne Times and Jacob Younger.

Johnathan Cyprien had a brilliant four-year career at FIU, establishing several new defensive records that will stand for some time. He concluded his college career as FIU's school record holder for total tackles (365) [which also rank in the top four all-time in Sun Belt Conference history], solo tackles (213) and fumbles forced (six). He also ranks among the all-time best for pass breakups (second, 22), interceptions (fourth, 7), assisted tackles (fourth, 152) and fumbles recovered (fourth, 3).

Aside from statistics, Cyprien's name also garnered several honors and accolades. He was an All-Sun Belt Conference First-Team selection in 2012, the fourth league honor of his FIU career. Cyprien was named to the second-team his sophomore and junior seasons and honorable mention as a freshman. He was also tapped a First-Team All-Sun Belt Conference pick by the Phil Steele publication.

Widely-regarded as the top safety to ever play at FIU, Cyprien's senior season was also impressive once again leading the team in tackles with 93, including FIU highs in solo stops (54) and assisted tackles (39). He also recorded a team-high four interceptions, along with five pass breakups, 3.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble. As durable as they come, he started every game the past three seasons (2010-12), and has started the most career games at safety at FIU (45) - the third-most amount of starts at any position for a Panther.

Tourek Williams is arguably one of the top defensive ends ever to play at FIU. The three-time All-Sun Belt Conference honoree and 2012 team captain started the most career games ever by a defensive lineman at FIU (39). In 2012, Williams led the team with 14.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, going along with a career-high 46 total tackles (including 29 solo), two pass break-ups and three quarterback hurries. He finished his FIU tenure second to former Panther and current NFL San Diego Charger Antwan Barnes in career tackles for loss (45.5), yardage from TFLs (224), sacks (18.0) and yardage from sacks (155).

Following the 2012 season, despite a 3-9 team mark, league coaches chose Williams onto the All-SBC Conference First-Team. The year-ending accolade was his third straight, after second-team recognition following the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Recognition was plenty for Williams surrounding his senior season in Miami, after beginning the campaign being voted the SBC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year by the league's coaches and media, along with a spot on the 2012 Preseason All-SBC Team. He earned unanimous preseason All-SBC First-Team honors from Athlon's, Blue Ribbon, CBSSports.com, Lindy's and Phil Steele, as well as Lindy's No. 1 NFL talent in the Sun Belt Conference.

Caylin Hauptmann had a standout 2012 season along the FIU offensive line earning All-Sun Belt Conference second-team honors from the league's head coaches, as well as the Phil Steele publication. Hauptmann finished his three-year FIU career starting every game played for the Panthers (37 total games). He helped pave the way for the FIU offense to have four 100-yard rushers, three 300-yard passing efforts and six 100-yard receivers in a season where the primary running back and quarterback were out for multiple games with injury. To start the year, Hauptmann was named to the Outland Trophy 2012 Preseason Watch List, and was a unanimous all-conference selection from the league's head coaches and multiple college football print publications and websites.

A graduate of Beverly Hills High School, the California native began his collegiate career playing at nearby College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif. After one season he transferred to FIU where he became an immediate starter on the offensive line. Phil Steele named him to his postseason all-conference team after both his sophomore and junior seasons, while making his debut on the official All-Sun Belt team as a second-team pick in 2011.

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