Jacksonville Jaguars take first Hurricane of NFL Draft, offensive guard Brandon Linder, in third round

05/10/2014 12:09 AM

05/10/2014 1:45 AM

All was quiet on the University of Miami football front Friday night at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and across Hurricane homes everywhere — until the silence was broken at about 11 p.m.

That’s when the first UM name was called in the 2014 NFL Draft.

That pick: offensive guard Brandon Linder to the Jacksonville Jaguars, whose offensive coordinator, Jedd Fisch, previously coached the 6-6, 312-pound Linder at Miami.

Linder was selected 93rd overall — the 29th player taken in the third round — when the Jaguars gave up Nos. 105 and 179 to the Patriots to draft the Hurricane from Southwest Ranches in Broward County.

“Crazy, right?” said Linder, who leaves for Jacksonville on Sunday. “I’m so happy right now. It was me and my family sitting down, no real expectations, and I get a call from Jacksonville and didn’t even know they had traded up with the Patriots to get a pick. I was ecstatic. My family and I were going crazy.

“I can’t wait to get there and get to work. Coach Fisch is my guy. He coached me for two years, and I couldn’t be more excited to be working with him.”

Linder, who also has played tackle, not only will be staying home in Florida, he’ll have a chance to protect the top quarterback taken in the draft, No. 3 overall pick Blake Bortles from UCF.

“Congrats to my boy @BrandonLinder65!’’ tweeted UM quarterback Stephen Morris, also awaiting his shot to become an NFL player. “love ya bro!’’

UM extended its streak of 40 consecutive years with an NFL Draft pick.

The selection marked the first Hurricane taken as high as the third round since 2012, when defensive end Olivier Vernon went to the Dolphins and linebacker Sean Spence to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Last year UM had cornerback Brandon McGee go in the fifth round to the St. Louis Rams and Mike James to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the sixth.

No other Hurricane has been drafted.

Some flirted with the prospect of 6-7, 335-pound right tackle Seantrel Henderson going as high as the third round until it was reported Monday by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Henderson tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine.

That dropped Henderson’s worth, leaving Linder and Saturday’s hopefuls that include Morris, receiver Allen Hurns and punter Pat O’Donnell.

Linder said last week that he’d be happy no matter when he gets drafted. “It’s all about the opportunity I’m given,” he said.

His father, Kent, said before the pick Friday that Brandon would be home for the draft with his younger brother Nick, an incoming UM freshman offensive lineman who also played at St. Thomas Aquinas.

“I’m kind of one of those guys who doesn’t get excited,” Kent Linder said. “I mean I freak out inside and I let it out without it being seen. I’m optimistic but I’m also realistic. We’ll see where he ends up.’’

Morris’ dad, Colin, said Stephen would spend the weekend in Sunny Isles with his family.

“We’re just going to hole up in our place,” Colin Morris said. “He’s really excited. We all are. It’s tempered with a great deal of uncertainty as you can understand and imagine.’’

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