Cliff Russell is the latest Ute receiver headed for the NFL.
April 22, 2002
SALT LAKE CITY -
Utah wide receiver Cliff Russell was taken on the first day of the NFL draft and offensive guard Ed Ta'amu went early in day two. Russell, the fastest player in Utah football history, was selected by the Washington Redskins in the third round. Ta'amu was a fourth-round choice of the Minnesota Vikings.
Russell becomes the third Ute receiver in four years to be drafted by the NFL. Kevin Dyson was Tennessee's first-round draft pick in 1998 and Steve Smith was a third-round pick in 2000. Russell, who has been clocked in 4.27 seconds in the 40-yard sprint and has a 41" vertical jump, had 53 receptions last year for 744 yards. He averaged 14.0 yards per catch and was named second-team all-Mountain West Conference. Russell finished his Ute career sixth in all-time receiving yards (1,862).
Ta'amu was heavily recruited out of high school as a defensive lineman, but moved to the offensive line late in his sophomore season and started his last two years. Extremely strong, Ta'amu set new school weight room records with his 625-pound squat and 412-pound hang clean. He also bench presses 455 pounds. Named to the all-Mountain West Conference second team, he was the first-team choice of the Las Vegas Review Journal and Collegefootballnews.com. He set a school record single-season record with 25 de-cleaters vs. BYU last fall and averaged 13.7 de-cleaters per game.
Russell and Ta'amu join 13 other former Utes on active NFL rosters. The others are: Mike Anderson, Jamal Anderson, Andy Bowers, Luther Elliss, Anthony Davis, Kevin Dyson, Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, Keith Embray, Lance Scott, Barry Sims, Omar Bacon, Andre Dyson and Steve Smith.