What follows is a list of the top 10 UConn football players drafted. Wondering about guys like Nick Giaquinto and Brian Kozlowski? They worked in the NFL, sure, but they weren't drafted. This history is not as rich and the names not as big as on the basketball side, but UConn has had 36 players drafted, 21 since 2005.
WILL BEATTY, LT, New York Giants
UConn career: Letter winner 2005-08 and was an important blocker as running back Donald Brown rushed for a school-record 2,083 yards in 2008.
NFL career: Selected by the Giants in the second round of the 2009 draft, 60th overall
Comment: Beatty didn't reach his full potential at UConn until his senior year but the Giants have seen it. Beatty signed a five-year, $38.75 million contract in February 2013. He played in all 16 games his rookie season. But the Giants' starting left tackle broke his leg in the 2013 season finale and is questionable for the 2014 opener. Beatty was on the roster when the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2011 but didn't play because of an injury.
TYVON BRANCH, S, Oakland Raiders
UConn career: Letter winner 2004-07 and was recognized as one of the fastest players in college football at the time, particularly as a kick returner. In '07 he led the Big East, averaging 29 yards a return, and had been the only player in school history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same season before Nick Williams did it in 2010. Branch nearly had a third in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in '07.
NFL career: A fourth-round pick of the Raiders, 100th overall, in 2008. Was designated the team's franchise player in 2012 and signed a four-year, $26.6 million deal that was reworked for salary cap reasons. He missed much of 2013 with an injury, but has 445 tackles, including seven sacks, going into his seventh season. He also has four interceptions.
Comment: Branch is one of the fastest athletes to come out of UConn, winning the 2004 national indoor track championship in the 60-meter dash (6.82) as a senior at Cicero-North Syracuse High. He has grown into a good NFL player, although after going down with an injury in Week 2 last season, Raiders fans are going to want to see how one of their top investments performs in 2014 along with another UConn player, Sio Moore, who the Raiders took with the 66th overall pick (third round) in 2013.
CODY BROWN, DE, Montreal Alouettes via Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets
UConn career: Letter winner 2005-08 and was third all-time in sacks with 24 and third in tackles for a loss with 45.5, and was named first-team All Big East as a senior.
NFL career: Was part of UConn's first class that saw as many as four players selected in the 2009 draft. Brown was one of three who went in the second round, to the Cardinals with the 63rd pick overall. Brown sustained an injury the summer and was waived in 2011.
Comment: Brown was part of a special group drafted. Four at one time was a record when it happened.
DONALD BROWN, RB, San Diego Chargers
UConn career: Letter winner 2006-08, he led the nation in yards per game with more than 160 in 2008 and became UConn's first AP All-American (second team). Career leader in net rushing yards (3,800) including the 2,083 in '08.
NFL career: The only UConn player selected in the first round, going to the Indianapolis Colts with the 27th pick in 2009. He signed a five-year deal and in 2010 became the third Husky (Brian Kozlowski and Nick Giaquinto) to play in the Super Bowl. He started 20 games and rushed for 2,377 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Colts before signing a three-year, $10 million deal with San Diego in March. He rejoins fellow UConn teammate and defensive tackle Kendall Reyes (second round, 2012).
Comment: The potential of Trent Richardson made it easier for the Colts to part with Brown, despite Brown having a fairly productive 2013 (537 yards rushing and six TDs on about five yards a carry). Brown will join Ryan Matthews and Danny Woodhead in San Diego in what could be a nice rotation at running back, particularly if Brown can become a top pass-catching option. He caught 83 passes for 767 yards and two TDs in his career at Indy.
DARIUS BUTLER, S, Indianapolis Colts
UConn career: Was a four-year starter (2005-08), two-year captain and was Mr. Versatility during his college career. Butler had 10 career interceptions (two for touchdowns), tied for ninth all-time in school history.
NFL career: Butler was the 41st overall pick for the Patriots, a second-rounder in 2009, signing a four-year deal. He spent two seasons with the Patriots, including a disappointing 2010. He spent the next season in Carolina before signing a two-year deal with the Colts in March 2013. He had four interceptions in 2012 and '13 in Indianapolis.
Comment: Butler is still a big-play defender but his fate was likely sealed in New England with an uneven performance against the Jets in 2010. He was burned for a touchdown and was called for pass interference twice on a Jets scoring drive. He was replaced in the starting lineup the next week. He has bounced back in Indianapolis.
JOHN DORSEY, LB Green Bay Packers
UConn career: Letter-winner 1980-83. Was named Division I-AA All-American (1983) and Yankee Conference defensive player of the year twice. Dorsey is the school's all-time leader in career tackles (495) and is the single-season leader with 184 in '83.
NFL career: Was a fourth-round pick (99th overall) of the Packers in 1984. Played five seasons with the Packers, recording 130 tackles, and had two fumble recoveries. He was also an accomplished special teams' player. He had 35 tackles on special teams in his rookie season (1984), still a team record. Dorsey's career ended freakishly: he sustained a knee injury during a pregame warmup in 1989 for the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lambeau Field.
Comment: Dorsey had been a longtime scout for the Packers and was in demand as a general manager for much of the past two decades before he accepted an offer to become the Chiefs' GM January 2013. He and Chiefs coach Andy Reid (they worked together in Green Bay in the 1990s) sent Chiefs fans on a wild ride in 2013 as the team went from 2-14 in 2012 to 11-5 and the club's first playoff appearance since 2010.
DAN ORLOVSKY, QB, Detroit Lions
UConn career: Letter winner 2001-04. Holds career records in: total offense (10,421), plays (1,710), passing attempts (1,567), completions (916) and net yards (10,706), touchdown passes (84) and interceptions thrown (51). He holds single-season records in: total offense net yards (3,444 in 2003), plays (565 in '03), passing attempts (475, '03), completions (288, '03) and net yards (3,485, '03). Led UConn to first bowl game as a Division I-A program and won it, the Motor City Bowl, in 2004.
NFL career: Was drafted by the Lions in 2005 with 145th overall pick, fifth round in 2005. His second tour with the Lions began in April when he was signed as the backup to Matthew Stafford, but Orlovsky has played for Texans, Colts and Buccaneers in between his Lions stints. He played in 10 games for Detroit in 2008, throwing for 1,616 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. In 2011, with the Colts, Orlovsky threw for 1,201 yards six touchdowns and four interceptions.
Comment: Orlovsky has been a serviceable backup who has proven to be a mentor as well. He continues to be a student of the game and would make an excellent coach. The Shelton native, born in Bridgeport, continues to be active in the community, consistently holding charity events and giving back. Orlovsky is one of the most beloved football Huskies of all time.
KENDALL REYES, DE, San Diego Chargers
UConn career: Letter winner 2008-11 and an All-Big East first team defensive tackle his senior season. He was a captain but also a force behind UConn's first trip to the BCS, the Fiesta Bowl, following the 2010 season.
NFL career: Was drafted by the Chargers with the 49th overall pick — second round — of the 2012 draft, the highest a defensive lineman had ever been drafted out of UConn. He started all 16 games for the Chargers last year and had 34 tackles, including five sacks.
Comment: Reyes had 5.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss as a rookie. His first two sacks came against already-NFL-great Peyton Manning. He is primed for an outstanding NFL career. His work ethic was unmatched at UConn and apparently he didn't slip at the next level.
DONALD THOMAS, G, Indianapolis Colts
UConn career: Letter winner 2006-07. No, he didn't play much college football. He made the team as a walk-on then earned a scholarship and was named first team All Big East in 2007.
NFL career: Thomas was selected with the 195th overall pick — sixth round — by the Miami Dolphins in 2008. He also played for the Lions before signing with the Patriots in 2011 and then the Colts in 2013.
Comment: Thomas was on the active roster for the Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2011 but didn't dress for the game. Last year, he became the starter quickly in Indianapolis before another injury (quadriceps) sent him to the injured reserve.
ERIC TORKELSON, RB, Green Bay Packers
UConn career: Letter winner 1972-73
NFL career: Was selected 272nd overall in the 11round of the 1974 NFL Draft. Torkelson rushed for 1,307 yards on 351 carries and scored eight touchdowns. His best NFL season was in 1977, when he played in 14 games, carrying the ball 103 times for 309 yards and a touchdown. Torkelson also caught 11 passes for 107 yards. He would catch 19 for 140 yards in 1978.
Comment: Torkelson was the first player from his high school in Troy, N.Y. to play in the NFL.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun