NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Southern Conference had four football players selected on the third day of the 2013 NFL Draft Saturday afternoon. Appalachian State’s Sam Martin was chosen by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round (#165 overal), while teammate Demetrius McCray was taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the seventh round (#210 overall). Samford defensive lineman Nicholas Williams was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the seventh round (#223). Elon wideout Aaron Mellette was taken with pick No. 238 by the Baltimore Ravens.
Martin and McCray are Appalachian State’s 24th and 25th all-time NFL draft picks and eighth and ninth Mountaineers selected in the last six years.
Appalachian’s two selections mark the fifth time in school history that multiple Mountaineers have been picked in the NFL Draft. Appalachian also had multiple draft picks in 1990 (Derrick Graham and Keith Collins), 1992 (Gary Dandridge and Mike Frier), 2008 (Dexter Jackson and Corey Lynch) and 2010 (Mark LeGree, Daniel Kilgore and D.J. Smith). It is also the second time in the last three years that Appalachian is the only NCAA Division I FCS program with multiple NFL draft picks.
Martin was named first-team All-America by the Associated Press in 2012 after ranking third nationally with a 45.9-yard punting average as a senior. His 45.9-yard average was the second-highest in school history, behind only a 47.3-yard average compiled in 1991 by the only other Appalachian State punter ever selected in the NFL Draft, Harold Alexander, who was picked by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round (67th overall) in 1993.
For his career, Martin ranked third in Appalachian State history with 226 punts and 9,397 punting yards, sixth with a 41.6-yard punting average and finished with 79 punts downed inside the 20 yard line and 38 that traveled 50 yards or more.
McCray was a two-time all-America cornerback at Appalachian State, earning second-team honors from the Associated Press as a senior last season and fourth-team recognition from Phil Steele Publications as a junior.
He tied for the Southern Conference lead with four interceptions in 2012, becoming the first Mountaineer cornerback to ever lead the league in interceptions twice (he also paced the SoCon with five INTs in 2011). McCray also led Appalachian with eight passes defended, ranked sixth on the squad with 55 tackles from his cornerback position and forced a fumble. He was one of 20 finalists for the 2012 Buck Buchanan Award, which is presented to the nation’s top defensive player in NCAA Division I FCS.
McCray finished his collegiate career with 10 interceptions, 26 passes defended, two forced fumbles and 123 total tackles.
Williams becomes the fifth player in Samford history to be drafted. This marks the second year in a row a Samford player was taken in the NFL Draft, as Corey White was drafted in the fifth round by the New Orleans Saints in the 2012 Draft. This is the first time Samford has had players drafted in back-to-back years.
Cortland Finnegan, who currently plays for the St. Louis Rams, was taken in the seventh round of the 2006 Draft by the Tennessee Titans.
Prior to Finnegan, Gary Fleming was selected in the seventh round of the 1969 Draft by the Baltimore Colts, and Rex Keeling was taken in the 16th round by the Houston Oilers in 1967.
For his senior season in 2012, Williams had 31 tackles, including 15 solo stops. Williams had seven sacks and eight tackles for a loss last season. His seven sacks ranked second in the Southern Conference.
For his career, Williams had 66 tackles, with 39 of those being solo stops. He finished his career with 11 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks.
Mellette becomes the first Elon player selected in the NFL Draft since the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Chad Nkang in the seventh round in 2007.
"I was so happy," said Mellette. "My entire family was here with me. I had some friends and former teammates here. They stayed with me the whole time. We had been sitting here all day waiting to hear my name and I was starting to talk to teams about free agency. Luckily, Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore's General Manager) called me and told me they were going to take me. My dreams as a college athlete came true when they called my name.
A Sanford, N.C., native, Mellette was a first-team All-Southern Conference selection by both the league's coaches and media members and placed eighth in the voting for the Walter Payton Award, which is presented annually to the top player in the Football Championship Subdivision in 2012. Mellette ended the season with a league-leading 108 points and 18 receiving touchdowns. Mellette’s 18 touchdown catches are tied for the second-most ever in a single season in SoCon history. In his senior year, Mellette caught 97 passes for 1,398 yards. He led the SoCon and ranked second nationally in both receptions per game (8.82) and receiving yards per game (127.09) following the regular season. He eclipsed 100 receiving yards in eight of Elon's 11 contests, including matching career-highs with 237 yards and three touchdowns against Appalachian State on Oct. 6. Mellette posted a six-game span in which he caught at least two touchdowns.
Following his senior season, Mellette also collected All-America honors from The Associated Press, Walter Camp Football Foundation, American Football Coaches Association, The Sports Network/Fathead.com, College Sporting News, Phil Steele and College Sports Journal.
Mellette finished his career at Elon with 304 receptions for 4,254 yards and 44 touchdowns.