Five former Maryland players officially found homes in the NFL as undrafted free agents, according to a release and announcements from various teams, and another will get a shot to try out, according to his agent, as rookie minicamps across the league begin this weekend and continue next weekend.
Running back Brandon Ross (Minnesota Vikings), offensive lineman Andrew Zeller (Detroit Lions), kicker Brad Craddock (Cleveland Browns) and defensive back A.J. Hendy (Miami Dolphins) will get a chance to earn their way onto an NFL roster despite not being drafted last weekend. Wide receiver Marcus Leak (Indianapolis Colts) left the Maryland program last spring and didn't play college football last season.
Defensive back Anthony Nixon is trying out to earn a contract with the Detroit Lions, his agent tweeted.
Last weekend, the Terps had their largest draft class since 2009 when defensive back Sean Davis (Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round), defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round) and defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson (Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round) were all selected.
Ross finished tied for first in the Big Ten Conference with 6.4 yards per carry last season and rushed for 423 yards and six touchdowns in the final two games of his Maryland career. Overall, he rushed for 2,543 yards in his five seasons at Maryland. The Vikings have four other running backs on their roster, including Adrian Peterson -- who led the league with 1,485 yards last fall -- and Jhurell Pressley, a rookie out of New Mexico who also signed as an undrafted free agent.
Zeller impressed in his workout at Maryland's pro day and was rated as one of the most athletic linemen in the draft, according to SPARQ. He started all 12 games for Maryland last season at right guard and was honorable mention All-Big Ten. He appeared in 47 games with 31 starts in his five years at Maryland. Former Maryland coach Randy Edsall is a member of the Detroit staff as director of football research/special projects.
Craddock was an All-American and the Lou Groza Award winner in 2014 after he made 18 of 19 field goals, including a school-record 57-yarder. He didn't get as many opportunities in 2015 and was 8 of 10 when he suffered a season-ending wrist injury against Wisconsin in a loss on Nov. 7. Cleveland's kicker last season was Travis Coons, a former undrafted free agent out of Washington who made 28 of 32 field goals last season.
Hendy was Maryland's top-rated recruit in the Class of 2011 out of Bowie, according to 247sports.com, and appeared in 42 games with 18 starts in his career. In 2015, he started all 12 games and finished with 76 tackles. In 2013, he earned Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week honors after recovering two fumbles and returning an interception for a touchdown in a blowout win over West Virginia. He was suspended for the 2014 season.
Leak left the program last May for "personal reasons" and did not return. He also sat out the 2013 season. In 2014, he was Maryland's third-leading receiver with 20 catches for 297 yards and three touchdowns, and he starred in the spring game last April with three touchdown catches. Leak finished his Maryland career with 45 catches for 775 yards and six touchdowns. The Colts have 12 wide receivers on their roster, including rookies MeKale McKay out of Cincinnati, Chester Rogers out of Grambling State and Tevaun Smith out of Iowa.
Nixon played in 48 games with 41 starts in his four years at Maryland. He finished third on the team with 82 tackles and intercepted three passes.