Rockets send three to the pros through the NFL Draft

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TOLEDO (UT Sports Information) – University of Toledo tight end Michael Roberts (Cleveland, OH) was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft on Saturday. Roberts is the 127th pick of the draft.

Roberts joins teammate Kareem Hunt as 2017 draftees. Hunt was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft on Friday night. Hunt and Roberts are the first two Rockets selected in the NFL Draft since John Greco and Jalen Parmele were selected in 2008.

“It’s a moment I’ll never forget,” said Roberts, who watched the draft with friends and family. “I think my mom is still crying. It’s amazing. I’m just very happy right now.”

“I thought I would go somewhere between the third and fifth rounds. I’m very happy with how it worked out. Detroit is a great opportunity for me. It’s probably the best possible situation for me. It’s also great that it’s so close to Toledo. I might be able to come back and watch some games this year.”

Roberts caught 45 passes for 533 yards and led the nation’s tight ends with 16 touchdown receptions, eight more than the next-nearest tight end. A first-team All-America selection by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Roberts broke the Toledo record for touchdown catches in a season previously held by Lance Moore (14 in 2004). He shattered school record for TD receptions by a tight end, formerly held by Don Seymour (9 in 1973). A first-team All-MAC honoree, Roberts had three TD catches in one game against both Western Michigan and Bowling Green. He played in the 2017 Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game.

University of Toledo defensive lineman Treyvon Hester (Pittsburgh, Pa.) was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft on Saturday. Hester was the 244th pick of the draft.

Hester, a 6-3, 300-pound defensive tackle, is a three-time All-MAC player who earned second-team honors in 2016. In his four-year college career, Hester totaled 153 tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks. He was selected to play in the East-West Shrine Game but had to sit out due to an injury.

Hester had been watching and waiting all day with friends and family until he finally got the call from Oakland.

“I was getting a little discouraged. It was getting late, almost the end of the draft,” said Hester. “When I finally got the call, my heart almost stopped. It was almost as exciting as if I was taken in the first round.

“I’m excited to be joining the Raiders. I don’t know a whole lot about the team, but I know about the history of the Raider mentality. I plan on working hard and always give it everything I have on the field.”

University of Toledo offensive lineman Storm Norton (Toledo, Ohio) signed a free agent contract with the Detroit Lions on Saturday immediately following the conclusion of the NFL Draft.

Norton becomes the fourth Rocket to join an NFL team. Teammates Kareem Hunt (Kansas City), Michael Roberts (Detroit) and Treyvon Hester (Oakland) were all selected in the NFL Draft.

Norton, 6-8, 306 pounds, is a two-time, first-team All-MAC selection at left tackle. He was the leader of a unit that allowed just 14 sacks in 2016 and powered a Rocket offense that led the MAC in total offense (517.8) and passing offense (322.8). This past season he was on the official watch list for the Outland Trophy, awarded annually to the nation’s top interior lineman. He was also selected to play in the East-West Shrine Game.

“It’s a blessing for me to get a chance to play at the next level,” said Norton. “There is a lot of work to be done, but I’m excited for the opportunity.”

Norton has the chance to join former teammate Roberts, who was drafted by the Lions in the fourth round. Although he has never had a favorite NFL team, he is excited for the opportunity to play about an hour from his hometown. “Ford Field is just right down the road from my house and my family. I definitely appreciate that,” said Norton.

The selection of Hunt, Roberts and Hester in the draft represents a huge accomplishment for the players and the program, said UT head coach Jason Candle.

“The two biggest goals for our football program,” said Candle, “are to win a MAC Championship and help young men chase their dreams after graduation. For some of our players, reaching the NFL is a part of that. We are still working toward winning a championship, but this year’s draft is a step in the right direction.”