April 27, 2003
By Adam Porcelli
Notre Dame, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame had six players selected in the 2003 National Football League (NFL) draft on Sunday. Seven Irish players were selected in all during the two-day draft; center Jeff Faine was picked by the Cleveland Browns in the first round (21st selection overall) yesterday. Notre Dame had four offensive linemen drafted for the first time in school history since the current draft format began in 1967, following the NFL-AFL merger. The offensive linemen drafted were Faine, guard Sean Mahan and tackles Jordan Black and Brennan Curtin. Black was the first Irish player picked on Sunday, in the fifth round by the Kansas City Chiefs as the 153rd selection overall.
The selection order of Notre Dame players picked on the final day of the draft was as follows: Black, Mahan (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, fifth round, 168th selection overall), cornerback Shane Walton (St. Louis Rams, fifth round, 170th pick overall), strong safety Gerome Sapp (Baltimore Ravens, sixth round, 182nd overall), wide receiver Arnaz Battle (San Francisco 49ers, sixth round, 197th overall) and Curtin (Green Bay Packers, sixth round, 212th overall).
The following is a brief biography on each player.
Jordan Black-Kansas City Chiefs
(Fifth Round, 153rd selection overall)
A four-year starter at left offensive tackle, Black played over 1,000 minutes during his Notre Dame career and started 42 games for the Irish. Black was a preseason honorable mention All-American by Street & Smith’s in 2001 and 2002. He also was invited to play in the 2003 East-West Shrine Game. A talented lineman, Black will bring good athletic ability and excellent feet with him to the next level. Black will graduate in May from the College of Arts and Letters with a degree in psychology and computer applications.
Sean Mahan-Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(Fifth Round, 168th selection overall)
Notre Dame’s starting left offensive guard the past two seasons, Mahan played in every game during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. He played the second-most minutes (306:20) of any offensive player on the ’02 Irish roster. Mahan was named as one of four team captains in ’02 and also won the 2002 Guardian of the Year Award, which is given to the top offensive lineman. Capable of playing any position on the offensive line, Mahan is an intelligent player with good strength and mechanics. Mahan will graduate in May from the College of Arts and Letters with a degree in psychology and computer applications.
Mahan on being selected by Tampa Bay:
“It’s great. All along I was kind of hoping for the Buccaneers. It’s a great organization with a great coach and obviously a lot of success in their program. I am just happy to be a part of it. I had talked to a lot of teams, but I knew the Bucs were very interested. Honestly, I just got a call about a minute before I was drafted by Tampa Bay. It was a little shocking.”
Mahan on what he feels he will bring to Tampa Bay:
“I think I am just a smart player with great physical attributes. I am always cool under pressure. I’d say my strong points are my athletic ability and football smarts.”
Shane Walton-St. Louis Rams
(Fifth Round, 170th selection overall)
A unanimous consensus All-American in 2002, Walton became Notre Dame’s first consensus All-American since Bobby Taylor in 1994. One of four official team captains for the 2002 Irish, Walton was elected by his teammates and presented by the Notre Dame National Monogram Club as Notre Dame’s 2002 Most Valuable Player. A former soccer player (earning BIG EAST all-rookie team honors as a freshman), Walton has all-around athletic skills. This former Notre Dame cornerback possesses solid defending skills, good hands and a passion for football. Walton will graduate in May with a degree from the College of Arts and Letters, majoring in sociology, psychology and computer applications.
Gerome Sapp-Baltimore Ravens
(Sixth Round, 182nd selection overall)
Also a contributor on special teams, Sapp was a strong player in the secondary for the Irish. He was ranked fifth in the country among strong safeties by The Sporting News and was named to the Thorpe Award Watch list in 2001 and ’02. Sapp, an official team captain in 2002, possesses natural leadership skills on and off the field. Along with his leadership abilities, Sapp will bring great defending skills and talent with him to the next level. Sapp will graduate in May with a degree in finance from the Mendoza College of Business.
Arnaz Battle-San Francisco 49ers
(Sixth Round, 197th selection overall)
A former quarterback, Battle started at receiver for Notre Dame the past two seasons, leading the 2002 Irish in receiving with 58 receptions for 786 yards. He became only the fifth player in Notre Dame history to register 50 catches in a season and the first since Ken MacAfee had 54 in 1977. Battle was elected as one of the team’s four captains for the ’02 Irish and was named the 2002 Sportsman of the Year by the Independence Bowl Foundation. A multidimensional player who is a threat anytime he has the football, Battle will bring tremendous athletic skills and great hands with him to the next level. Battle will graduate in May with a degree in sociology and computer applications from the College of Arts and Letters.
Brennan Curtin-Green Bay Packers
(Sixth Round, 212th selection overall)
In his first complete season as Notre Dame’s starting right tackle, Curtin played in over 250 minutes in 12 games for the 2002 Irish. He also started six games during the ’01 campaign after starting the season as a reserve. Curtin is a tough competitor with impressive size and potential to improve. Curtin will graduate in May with a degree in sociology and computer applications from the College of Arts and Letters.
Efforts to contact Black, Walton, Sapp, Battle and Curtin were unsuccessful at this time. Please check back to www.und.com at a later time for comments from these players.