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NFL Draft: Stovall, Fasano taken on first day

Ken Fowler | Monday, May 1, 2006

Charlie Weis called Anthony Fasano the best tight end he’s coached since Mark Bavaro.

Thanks to this weekend’s NFL Draft, Fasano will get the chance to earn that compliment under Bavaro’s former coach and Weis’ former mentor.

Bill Parcells and the Dallas Cowboys selected Notre Dame’s graduating tight end Saturday with the 21st pick in the second round (53rd overall) of the Draft.

“I was just really excited after sitting around all afternoon … to be talking to [Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones and Coach Parcells,” Fasano said.

Fasano was one of two Notre Dame players selected on the first day.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected former Irish wide receiver Maurice Stovall with the 90th pick in the draft.

Fasano said he spoke with Stovall after the Cowboys made their pick but before Tampa Bay selected the wide receiver. Stovall will compete with returning Buccaneers Michael Clayton, Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard, and B.J. Johnson for playing time at wide receiver.

On Day 2, the New England Patriots drafted former Irish guard Dan Stevenson with the 205th overall selection. Fasano said he exchanged text messages with Stevenson after the Patriots selected the guard.

Fasano was the fourth tight end selected, behind Maryland’s Vernon Davis, Marcedes Lewis of UCLA and Joe Klopfenstein from Colorado. Davis went sixth overall to San Francisco, and Jacksonville selected Lewis with the 28th pick of the Draft. Saint Louis took Klopfenstein with the 14th pick of round 2 (46th overall).

“I was just sitting there absolutely knowing nothing up until I got that phone call,” Fasano said. “I knew there were a couple teams that were really interested in me and could pick me, but I didn’t know.”

Bavaro, the man to which Weis compared Fasano, played for Notre Dame from 1982-84. He was an All-American his senior season.

“I’m honored that he said my name in the same sentence as Bavaro,” Fasano said.

Parcells coached Bavaro from 1985-90, winning two Super Bowls with the New York Giants before resigning due to health issues.

A Giants fan from New Jersey, Fasano said he admires Parcells, even if they will now team up against his favorite childhood team.

“Growing up a Giants fan, watching him coach when I was a little kid, makes [the selection] a little more special for me,” Fasano said.

Fasano will have to do his best to earn significant playing time, as the Cowboys return Pro Bowl tight end Jason Whitten to the lineup for the 2006 campaign. Dallas also added former Seahawk Ryan Hannam at the position. Fasano said he expects Dallas to run a two-tight end formation often next year.

“I look forward to working with [Whitten and Hannam],” he said. “And just whatever the team needs, I’ll be there for them.”

Fasano joins former Irish running back Julius Jones in Dallas. Jones rushed for 993 yards in 13 games last season after bursting onto the scene as a rookie with 819 yards in just eight games.

“It’s going to be great,” Fasano said. “Notre Dame has a ton of people in the league. Julius and I got along real well when he was at Notre Dame.”

Fasano will report to mini-camp in Dallas Thursday before returning to Notre Dame for graduation exercises.

Six Notre Dame players signed contracts with NFL teams as undrafted free agents Sunday. Linebacker Corey Mays and wide receiver Matt Shelton both signed with the Patriots, while punter and place kicker D.J. Fitzpatrick signed with the New York Jets.

Linebacker Brandon Hoyte went to the Colts, running back Rashon Powers-Neal signed with the Denver Broncos and offensive tackle Mark LeVoir signed with the Chicago Bears.