Former USF cornerback Mike Jenkins might have waited a little longer than he had hoped, but the Dallas Cowboys used the 25th pick in Saturday's NFL draft to select him, making him USF's first-ever first-round pick.
"It took me off my feet," Jenkins told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Jenkins, who liked Dallas enough in the spring that he often wore a Cowboys shirt when visiting USF practices, will join former Bulls cornerback Anthony Henry in Dallas.
"I'm so excited for Mike," USF coach Jim Leavitt said. "It's important for our program because it shows you can come to South Florida and be drafted in the first round. Mike's a tremendous player, and I know he'll do a great job."
Jenkins was the fourth cornerback taken Saturday, five picks after the Bucs chose another corner in Kansas' Aqib Talib. The Cowboys, the defending NFC East champions, could have had him at No. 22 but instead chose Arkansas running back Felix Jones.
Seeing Jenkins still available three picks later, Dallas traded up three spots to take Seattle's pick at No. 25. The Cowboys gave up fifth- and seventh-round picks.
"The value for him was exceptional," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips told the Star-Telegram. "And we had to make a move."
As a first-round pick, Jenkins will soon find himself a multimillionaire. Last year's No. 25 pick, Panthers linebacker Jon Beason, signed a rookie contract for more than $6-million in guaranteed money.
Before his selection Saturday, the highest-drafted USF player had been linebacker Kawika Mitchell, who was taken by the Chiefs at No. 47 overall in 2003.
Jenkins wasn't the only state player an NFL team wanted to trade up to take.
Jacksonville gave up two third-rounders and a fourth-rounder to move up 18 spots and take Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey with the No. 8 pick.
"Derrick has always done things the right way both on and off the field, and it has paid off for him today," Gators coach Urban Meyer said. "Derrick is joining a terrific organization."
Miami nearly went without a first-round pick for the first time since 1994, but safety Kenny Phillips was taken by the Giants with the final pick of the opening round. Teammate Calais Campbell, a defensive end, was taken by the Cardinals in the second round at No. 50 overall.
Several state players could be among the first drafted today, including Florida receiver Andre Caldwell, USF cornerback Trae Williams and Florida State defensive tackle Andre Fluellen.