Buster Skrine had to wait a little while, but the two-time All-Southern Conference cornerback eventually became the first University of Tennessee at Chattanooga player in a decade to be selected in the NFL draft.
Skrine was drafted Saturday by the Cleveland Browns, who used the sixth pick in the fifth round (No. 137 overall) to nab the speedy, 5-foot-10, 186-pound corner.
“I really am on Cloud 9 right now, feeling like all the hard work has paid off. I’m in the NFL and now it’s time to work even harder,” Skrine said from his mother’s house in Acworth, Ga., where he watched the draft with a small group of family and friends.
Skrine was projected to go anywhere from the third to the sixth round, so he watched the third round intently Friday night. Anxious about what Saturday would hold for him, he said he didn’t fall asleep until 2 a.m.
When the fourth round began, he had to watch as nine defensive backs were selected. Then, early in the fifth round, he got the call from the Browns.
“You’re just sitting there waiting the whole time, so that was a long wait,” he said. “When I finally got that different area code to pop up on my phone, a monkey jumped off my back.”
Skrine is the first UTC player drafted since Richmond Flowers and Terdell Sands were selected in the seventh round in 2001. He was the second SoCon player picked in this year’s draft, behind The Citadel cornerback Cortez Allen.
Allen was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 31st pick in the fourth round.
A Cincinnati native and a lifelong Bengals fan, Mocs coach Russ Huesman said his allegiance will switch when the two Ohio rivals play. The same goes for the Steelers, who are coached by Mike Tomlin, whom Huesman coached at William & Mary.
“When the Browns play the Bengals and Buster’s on the Browns, I’ll be pulling for the Browns, I guarantee that,” he said. “The Bengals and the Steelers both just lost a fan, at least for one game a year.”
As a senior, Skrine had 39 tackles and two sacks. His only interception was a highlight-reel grab against Eastern Kentucky a week after he missed a game with a dislocated elbow.
Skrine made good use of his invitation to the NFL combine, posting the fastest time among defensive backs in a couple of events. He had an unofficial time of 4.29 in the 40-yard dash, though officially he was listed at 4.48.
“It’s neat that a Chattanooga guy gets drafted — it’s neat for the program — but when it happens to a quality person like that it makes it even better,” Huesman said. “I feel very strongly that he can play and compete, and he’ll do everything they ask him to do.”
Skrine is the third UTC player to be drafted by the Browns. They selected Jack Gregory in 1966 and Pete Pullara in 1978. The Browns went 5-11 in 2010 and haven’t made the playoffs since 2002.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...