Three members of the 2011 Wayne State University national finalist football team have started their professional careers by signing free agent contracts today.
Troy Burrell (Port Huron, Mich.) signed with the Detroit Lions, while Jeremy Jones (Grand Rapids, Mich./Rockford) inked a deal with the Chicago Bears. Joe Long (Lapeer, Mich./East) earned a contract from the St. Louis Rams.
Wide receiver Troy Burrell (Detroit Lions) had a reception in 47 of 49 career games played and concluded his career with a 38-game reception streak. He recorded 12 100-yard receiving games and set the WSU career mark for receptions (187), while finishing second in career receiving yards (3,132) and touchdowns (27). Burrell is fifth in average yards per reception (minimum 40 catches) at 16.75 ypc, eighth in career touchdowns (28), ninth in all-purpose yards (3,299) and 10th in scoring (168 points).
Safety Jeremy Jones (Chicago Bears) set the WSU career record for interception return yards (406) and ranks fourth all-time with 17 career interceptions. He had three interception returns for a touchdown, including a 100-plus yard return in 2010 against Hillsdale. Jones recorded 291 career tackles (184-107), which is tops among all defensive backs in WSU history and ranks ninth among all players. He finished his career second all-time with 23 pass break-ups and 40 passes defended. Jones was named to the All-America team by four different organizations following the 2011 campaign.
Offensive Tackle/Long snapper Joe Long (St. Louis Rams) started all 49 games at left tackle breaking the school record for both career and consecutive starts (Rich Baur, 1993-96, 44 starts). A four-time all-league performer (first team in 2010 and 2011, and Honorable Mention All-GLIAC in 2008 and 2009), he blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher all four seasons (Joique Bell rushed for 1152 yards in 2008 and 2084 yards in 2009, Josh Renel rushed for 1249 yards in 2010 and 1353 yards in 2011, and Toney Davis ran for 1557 yards in 2011). WSU rushed for 9,808 yards in his 49 games and compiled a 35-14 record. Long played offensive tackle and also served as the long snapper (FG, PAT and punt) during the Jan. 21, 2012, East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. He was the recipient of the 2011 Gene Upshaw Award as top Division II lineman (both offensive and defensive).
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