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Football: Playing on Sunday

Jay Fitzpatrick | Monday, April 28, 2008

Four former Notre Dame players were taken during the 2008 NFL Draft: tight end John Carlson, defensive lineman Trevor Laws, safety Tom Zbikowski and center John Sullivan.

Carlson was the first Notre Dame player selected, going in the second round (38th overall) to the Seattle Seahawks.

“I know very little about the Seahawks and what they do there. I’m just excited to get in there on Thursday and start learning,” Carlson said in a conference call with Seattle reporters.

Carlson finished his Irish career with 100 catches, 1,093 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. The 6-foot-5 fifth-year senior said he can contribute at the next level as both a receiving and blocking tight end.

“At Notre Dame, I had a dual role,” he said. “That’s what I want to be – a tight end that can block and can catch the ball.”

Carlson said he was prepared to wait until the second day of the draft, but the Seahawks traded up in the second round with the Baltimore Ravens to get the seventh pick of the round, which they quickly used on Carlson.

“I thought it could possibly not happen until tomorrow,” he said. “When I got the phone call [from the Seahawks], I was relieved and extremely happy.”

The next former Irish player taken was Laws, who also went in the second round (47th overall) to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Laws left Notre Dame with 224 tackles, 10 sacks, 22.5 tackles for loss, 10 passes defended, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and six blocked kicks.

Laws, who played defensive tackle under former Irish defensive coordinator Rick Minter’s 4-3 scheme and defensive end for current defensive coordinator Corwin Brown’s 3-4, said he is more suited to playing tackle for the Eagles.

“I looked at their roster a little bit, but I see there is a position for me to contribute. There is an opportunity for me to get in there and compete with some guys. I think it’s a pretty good place for me,” Laws said in a conference call with Philadelphia reporters.

Laws rejoins former teammate Victor Abiamiri in Philadelphia. Philadelphia took Abiamiri, a defensive end, with the 57th overall pick in last year’s draft.

Laws said he is thrilled to be back with his friend and former teammate.

“We’re real close friends. We were roommates for over a year. I talk to him on a weekly basis almost,” Laws said. “It’s really exciting to go to the same team as him.”

The next Irish player drafted was Zbikowski, who the Ravens took with the 86th overall pick during the third round of the draft.

Zbikowski set the Notre Dame record for tackles by a defensive back with 300, eighth best in Irish history. He also had eight interceptions, seven forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in his career. Zbikowski also returned three punts, two interceptions and two fumbles for touchdowns.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a press conference in Baltimore that he wanted to increase the defense’s size and speed, and that Zbikowski was part of that.

Newsome said Zbikowski is currently slated as the backup safety and a backup punt returner.

“Those are some areas that we got hit pretty hard last year and we ended up taking guys from the practice squad,” Newsome said.

The final Irish player taken was center John Sullivan, 187th overall to the Minnesota Vikings. Sullivan was a four-year starter at Notre Dame, playing in 31 consecutive games before an injury sidelined him for the last two games of the 2007 campaign.

Note:

Former long snapper J.J. Jansen signed as a free agent with Green Bay and former running back Travis Thomas signed with Cleveland on Sunday night after going undrafted.