Six Longhorns Get a Shot at the NFL Dream

AUSTIN – Six Longhorns are set to embark on their journey in the National Football League following the 2017 Draft. Four – Caleb Bluiett, Paul Boyette Jr., Kent Perkins and Tyrone Swoopes – have signed as undrafted free agents, while two – Johnathan Gray and Dylan Haines – accepted offers to attend rookie mini-camps for tryouts.

The Longhorns have had many players become successful at the next level recently as undrafted free agents. Including this 2017 class, 21 Longhorns have signed free agent contracts since the end of the 2014 draft. Of the 17 players to sign between 2014-16, 12 of them have either spent time on an active roster or practice squad during the season.

Six of the players to have signed as undrafted free agents during that time period are currently on active rosters: Malcolm Brown (Los Angeles Rams), Donald Hawkins (New York Jets), Trey Hopkins (Cincinnati Bengals), Marcus Johnson (Philadelphia Eagles), Adrian Phillips (Los Angeles Chargers) and Nick Rose (San Francisco 49ers). Additionally, Duke Thomas is signed to a futures contract with the Dallas Cowboys.

Bluiett, a tight end from Beaumont, Texas, signed as a free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Throughout his Longhorns career, Bluiett played at both defensive end and tight end. He began his career as a defensive end and played there in 2013 and 2014, but finished his career at the tight end position. He played in 44 career games with 12 career starts. On the offensive side of the ball, Bluiett caught 10 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns throughout his career. He was also an integral part of the running game for UT, paving the way for D'Onta Foreman, the 2016 Doak Walker Award winner and the Houston Texans third round pick. Defensively, Bluiett totaled 43 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.

Boyette, Jr., a native of Humble, Texas, signed as a free agent with the Oakland Raiders. He played in 42 career games, making eight starts on the defensive line. He totaled 100 tackles, 17.0 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in his career. Boyette started two games as a fifth-year senior, totaling 34 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. As a junior in 2015, he started six games and finished with 37 tackles and eight tackles for loss. He also had three sacks, three quarterback hurries and two pass breakups. He played in all 13 games as a sophomore in 2014 and saw action in five games as a redshirt freshman.

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Perkins, who hails from Dallas, signed a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. He played in 39 games, making 34 starts during his four-year career with the Longhorns. A 2016 All-Big 12 selection, he played in and started 10 games at right guard during 2016, paving the way for D'Onta Foreman, the Doak Walker Award winner and a third-round selection of the Houston Texans. The UT offense set a school record with seven 500-yard performances in 2016. As a junior in 2015, Perkins started all 10 games in which he played – eight at right tackle and the last two at right guard. He started all 13 games as a sophomore and made one start as a freshman in 2013.

Swoopes, a Whitewright, Texas native, has signed a free agent contract as a tight end with the Seattle Seahawks. A quarterback during his career with the Longhorns, he became best-known for his feature rushing package known as the '18-wheeler' – after his jersey number 18. He played in 40 career games, making 14 starts. He finished his career 13th on the UT career passing list with 3,038 yards. He also finished sixth in school history among quarterbacks with 967 rushing yards, while finishing third among QBs in rushing touchdowns with 24. His three 300-yard passing games are the sixth-most in school history.

Haines, a native of Lago Vista, Texas, has tentatively agreed to attend both the New York Jets rookie mini-camp this weekend and also the Houston Texans mini-camp the following weekend. Haines played in 35 career games with 33 starts in the defensive backfield, finishing with 175 tackles, 13 interceptions, 12 pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. He finished fifth in school history in interceptions and second with 238 interception return yards.

Gray, a native of Aledo, Texas, has agreed to a rookie mini-camp tryout with the New York Giants. He played in 46 career games with 23 starts. He finished his career 12th on the UT all-time rushing list with 2,607 yards and had six 100-yard games. He is one of just 19 players in school history to record 2,000 career rushing yards. After injuring his knee late in his senior season of 2015, Gray spent all of 2016 rehabbing.

Andy Gonzalez

Digital Editor for and article junkie for Horns Illustrated. Father of 4. Heisman Trophy winner winner.   Follow me on Twitter at @GoGoGonzilla .

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