Jones Signs with Vikings, Dan Stricker with Patriots
Tenn. - Two Vanderbilt captains from last year, cornerback
Rushen Jones and wide receiver Dan Stricker, inked free agent
deals with NFL teams late Sunday.
Jones, a four-year starter for the Commodores, agreed to
terms with the Minnesota Vikings. Stricker, the Vanderbilt
career leader with 21 touchdown receptions and one of the
Southeastern Conference’s all-time leading receivers,
signed with the New England Patriots.
Earlier Sunday, Vanderbilt All-SEC middle linebacker Hunter
Hillenmeyer was drafted in the fifth round by the Green Bay
Packers. The Nashville native became the first Commodore selected
since four players - linebackers Matt Stewart and Jamie Winborn,
cornerback Jimmy Williams and kicker John Markham - were picked
2002, Stricker led the Commodores with 44 receptions, good
for 620 yards and six touchdowns. The two-time All-SEC selection
ended his career second all-time among Vanderbilt receivers
with 2,880 receiving yards. Stricker will join a New England
Patriot team two years removed from winning the Super Bowl.
Though the Patriots return two starters in David Patten and
Troy Brown at wide receiver, they do have experienced depth
at the position. In addition to signing Stricker, the Patriots
used a second round pick to grab wide receiver Bethel Johnson
of Texas A&M.
Jones will attempt to join Vanderbilt graduate Corey Chavous
in the Minnesota secondary. Chavous, a recognized NFL Draft
expert in his own right who joined the ESPN broadcasting team
for its coverage this weekend, started at defensive back and
safety for the Vikings last year.
Jones, a freshman All-American in 1999 for the Commodores,
put together his best statistical season this year, contributing
70 tackles and a team-high 10 deflected passes for the Vanderbilt
defense. When he gets to the Vikings’ claim, Jones should
compete for an backup role at cornerback. The Vikings did
not select a defensive back in the draft.