Despite 25 running backs and 11 quarterbacks taken through seven rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft, Burbank High graduate James Williams and Ty Gangi of St. Francis were not selected among the 254 players chosen by 32 football teams.
Fortunately for Williams, just after the conclusion of the draft it was reported that he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent.
Gangi also received some good news since not being drafted Saturday, as he has been invited to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie minicamp.
The draft began Thursday with the first round, continued Friday with the second and third rounds and concluded Saturday with the fourth through seventh rounds.
This year’s edition saw teams, coaches and team executives take a defensive approach to the draft, selecting a number of defensive players as well linemen in an attempt to bolster their squads.
Though Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray was selected No. 1 overall, there were only three quarterbacks picked up in the first round and a total of five selected in the first three rounds. In retrospect, five quarterbacks were selected in the first round in 2018.
The only running back selected in the first round was Alabama’s Josh Jacobs, who was picked 24th by the Oakland Raiders. There were two running backs drafted in the first two rounds, compared to three in the first round of the 2018 draft.
At the NFL combine, Williams, a former running back at Washington State and a former All-Area player and All-CIF Southern Section honoree, ran 4.58 seconds in the 40-yard dash and posted a 36.5 inch vertical jump.
Last season as a red-shirt junior, Williams led the No. 13 Cougars to a program-best 11-2 record. Washington State finished tied for first with rival Washington in the Pac-12 conference’s North Division.
“I’m glad all of this is over, because I’ve been stressing and I’ll probably stress a little bit more — just about where I’m going to end up,” said Williams to CougarFan.com prior to the three-day event. “But I don’t care where I end up. Even if I don’t get drafted, I still need an opportunity. That’s all I need.”
The Burbank standout and former Pacific League Offensive Player of the Year helped Washington State to a 28-26 victory over No. 24 Iowa in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29, winning his first bowl game. Williams grabbed a team-high seven receptions for 53 yards and ran 11 yards in three carries in the Cougars’ third consecutive bowl appearance.
Williams proved to be an important dual-threat for the Cougars offense over in his final season, ending with 83 catches for 613 yards and four touchdowns and 122 carries for 560 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention and set the conference record for most catches by a running back, breaking a mark set in 1985.
In 39 appearances, 18 as a starter, Williams finished with a career total 27 touchdowns, good enough for fourth-most in program history. He racked up 3,090 all-purpose yards and carried 316 times for 1,583 yards and 19 touchdowns (tied for fifth-most for rushing touchdowns).
Williams caught 202 passes in his tenure and is tied for most receptions by a running back in program history. He is also tied for third-most for receptions by any position player in school history with 1,437 receiving yards and eight touchdown receptions.
The last football player from the city of Burbank to be drafted was Eben Britton, who was taken in the second round as the 39th overall pick after declaring for the 2009 NFL Draft as a junior out of University of Arizona.
Britton, a 2005 Burroughs High graduate, was an offensive lineman who spent six seasons in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Chicaho Bears
“I had to scratch my way from the bottom, living in a Trailblazer when I first got to California to being where I am now, I had a long journey,” said Williams to CougarFan.com. “I’m still going to get my degree and hopefully have a good career in the NFL.”
For the 2013 All-Area Football Player of the Year, Gangi sat out of the University of Nevada’s pro day due to a pulled hamstring running the 40-yard dash (he finished in 4.69 seconds while his hamstring gave out just before the finish line).
Gangi, who received first team All-CIF Southern Section and All-Mission League honors in 2013 with the Golden Knights, totaled 7,378 passing yards, 56 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in two years at Nevada (8-5; third in Mountain West Conference in 2018).
The quarterback led the Wolfpack to their first bowl game in three years against Arkansas State in the Arizona Bowl on Dec. 29, a 16-13 overtime victory.
Gangi threw the game-winning 11-yard touchdown pass and recorded 200 passing yards and two interceptions on 18-of-34 passing. It was the program’s sixth bowl victory.
Gangi ended his career with 27 consecutive games with a passing touchdown — the second-longest streak in the country. He started all 12 games last season and had 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and was named the team’s Co-Most Valuable Player alongside linebacker Malik Reed.
The quarterback was ranked second in passing yards per game (294 yards) in the Mountain West Conference and finished tied for eighth all-time in for the program with 57 touchdown passes.
Gangi transferred to Nevada after one year at Ventura College, where helped the Pirates to an 8-3 record and a share of the Western State Conference North Division title.
He was named to the All-Northern Conference first team and passed for a school-record 452 yards with five touchdowns in his first game for Ventura.
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