The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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April 29, 2013

5 WVU players, 1 from Marshall sign free agent contracts

The end of the 2013 NFL draft did not close the book on professional opportunities for former Mountaineers.

By Sunday morning, five former WVU standout had announced on their Twitter accounts that they had signed rookie free agent contracts with NFL teams.

Three of them — Joe Madsen, J.D. Woods and Jeff Braun — won't have to travel far.

Madsen, a center from Chardon, Ohio, and Woods,  wide receiver from Naples, Fla., signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, while Braun, an offensive lineman from Westminster, Md., signed with the Baltimore Ravens.

Another offensive lineman, Parkersburg native Josh Jenkins, will join Bruce Irvin with the Seattle Seahawks.

Alston, a powerful running back from Virginia Beach, Va., signed with the New Orleans Saints.

Those five will join Tavon Austin (St. Louis Rams), Geno Smith (New York Jets) and Stedman Bailey (St. Louis Rams) — who were all chosen in the first three round of the draft, as members of the 2012 Mountaineer team trying to make an NFL roster.

Fullback Ryan Clarke, linebacker Josh Francis, linebacker Terence Garvin, cornerback Pat Miller, defensive end Jorge Wright, punter Corey Smith and placekicker Tyler Bitancurt are also exploring their options with professional teams.

Free agent signees have no guarantees of making the roster, but former Mountaineers have had some success with the free agent route. Don Barclay (Green Bay), Darius Reynaud (Tennessee) and Corey McIntyre (Buffalo) were all on NFL rosters last season after originally signing as undrafted free agents.

There might one day be a WVU-to-Marshall connection in New Jersey.

Marshall wide receiver signed a free agent contract with the Jets and will join Smith there.

Wilson, a second-team All-Conference USA pick by CollegeSportsMadness.com and an honorable mention selection by the C-USA coaches, was sixth in the league in catches per game (5.8) in 2012. He was also one of 11 MU honorees on Phil Steele’s midseason all-conference list and his 187 career catches are seventh-highest in school history, while his 2,269 receiving yards are 10th. His 69 catches last season were a career-high, as were his 741 receiving yards. His best game came against league-leading Tulsa, when he amassed seven catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He also posted touchdown catches against Purdue, Southern Miss, UCF and Houston.

Wilson is the second MU wide receiver in three days to join the NFL ranks as Aaron Dobson was taken in the second round by the New England Patriots.

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