Three former Longhorns will boast new jerseys, new teams and new cities after being selected during the 2013 NFL Draft this past week.
Safety Kenny Vaccaro was selected in the first round of the draft as the 15th overall pick by the New Orleans Saints. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin was picked 78th overall by the Buffalo Bills in the third round while defensive end Alex Okafor was chosen as the 103rd overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals.
First off the board for the Longhorns was Vaccaro, who had made it his goal to be the first safety chosen. Without waiting too long on Thursday at Radio City Music Hall, his wish was granted.
“This is just the beginning,” Vaccaro said. “Now I have to keep working hard to get to New Orleans and make an impact.”
Vaccaro was a strong prospect heading into the draft after leading the Longhorns in tackles in 2012.
“I have been grinding my whole life, literally since I was four years old, for this opportunity,” Vaccaro said. “The Saints were my last visit, and I had a good feeling about it.”
Goodwin, well aware of the other talented players still up for grabs, didn’t pay much attention to the draft Friday night, during which he got the call from the Buffalo Bills.
“I was just sitting out there throwing the football with my brothers and sitting on the back of the truck talking,” Goodwin said. “I was like, ‘Dude, I don’t even think I’m going to go today. There are still receivers ranked ahead of me on the board.’ I got the call while I was on the back of the truck.”
Being chosen as a new member of an NFL team came after a whirlwind eight months for Goodwin, during which he competed at the Olympics in London and finished out his senior year of football, forgoing his last season of track to prepare for the draft.
“[My time at Texas] really taught me patience and how to persevere through thick and thin,” Goodwin said. “I went off the board before guys that had a lot more catches and yards than I did. But I’ve got a wonderful opportunity in front of me, and I’m just going to make the most of it.”
For Goodwin, Buffalo comes with some familiar ties. Former Longhorn and current Buffalo Bills safety Aaron Williams is a close friend while men’s head track coach Bubba Thornton also played as a wide receiver for the Bills.
Okafor said he couldn’t stop smiling after the call he received from the Arizona Cardinals.
“It’s just a blessing,” Okafor said. “No matter what team you go to, when you get that call on draft day you’re already in love with the team. Really, that is all you can ask for.”
Two other former Longhorns, defensive end Sam Acho and center Lyle Sendlein, are already on the Cardinals roster.
For Okafor, who many analysts predicted would be chosen in the second round, the phone call that came upon his selection was a welcomed end to the waiting game.
“I expected to be called yesterday,” Okafor said on Saturday. “It was a long wait yesterday. But God has a plan for me. Today I couldn’t be any happier.”