April 22, 2001
By Adam Porcelli
The University of Notre Dame had six players selected Saturday and Sunday in the 2001 National Football League draft. On Saturday, offensive guard Mike Gandy was the first Irish player selected in the third round (68th selection overall) by the Chicago Bears.
Others Irish players selected in this year's draft included: cornerback Brock Williams (New England Patriots, third round, 86th overall), tight end Jabari Holloway (New England Patriots, fourth round, 119th overall), safety Tony Driver (Buffalo Bills, sixth round, 178th overall), tight end Dan O'Leary (Buffalo Bills, sixth round, 195th pick) and linebacker Anthony Denman (Jacksonville Jaguars,, seventh round, 213th pick overall).
The following is a brief biography on each player, as well as his thoughts on the weekend's draft and his new team.
Mike Gandy-Chicago Bears
(Third Round , 68th selection overall)
A starter for the past two seasons, Gandy led all active players in 2000 in career playing time. He was voted to the all-independent teams by both Football News and Collegefootballnews.com. The Sporting News recognized Gandy with third-team All-American honors and in its Nov. 6, 2000 issue, rated him as the third-best offensive guard among pro prospects. This former Notre Dame offensive line leader will bring impressive strength and athletic ability to the next level. Gandy graduated in May of 2000 with a degree from the College of Arts and Letters as a double major in sociology and computer applications. He was enrolled in graduate classes this past fall.
Gandy on where he was selected:
"I am very pleased with where I was chosen. I am especially happy to be selected on the first day because that really shows the team is interested in you. I am happy with Chicago selecting me. I think going to Chicago will be a great opportunity for me."
Gandy on Chicago's team outlook and joining the team:
"I think the team is on the rise. They have a great tradition and can only move up right now. They made some good free agent moves on the defensive side of the ball and improved the offense with the draft. I am looking forward to competing for a starting job and doing my best to contribute in anyway I can."
Brock Williams-New England Patriots
(Third round, 86th selection overall)
Williams led the 2000 Notre Dame defense in playing time. The Sporting News named him to its preseason all-independent team in 2000 and he did not disappoint as he had his best season yet with the Irish. He is equipped with the all-around skills necessary to play effective man-to-man pass defense. He is not afraid to hit and brings a great deal of energy, as well as quickness, to the field. Williams will graduate this summer with a degree from the College of Arts and Letters, majoring in sociology.
Williams on his selection:
"I was figuring late second round and started getting a little worried as the third round was moving forward. Then I received a call from the Patriots organization five picks before they were supposed to select to tell me they were really interested in me and would take me if I was still available.
I am definitely happy with my selection number and of just getting drafted. I am happy to be going to New England because I feel I can fit in there. I think New England got a lot of good guys in the draft that will help the team get back in the playoffs this year and compete for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. I am really excited that Jabari (Holloway) is going to New England with me. We will probably room together and it will make going to Boston that much better."
Williams on where he will fit in:
"I think I will fit in well. I know they have good corners there now, but I still feel I can be a significant contributor. I will go in to camp with a positive attitude and a willingness to do what is asked of me in order to contribute. Right now, I see myself being part of a nickel package and the special teams."
Jabari Holloway-New England Patriots
(Fourth Round, 119th selection overall)
Holloway's contributions to the 2000 Notre Dame team were limited due to his struggles with injury throughout the season. Holloway was honored with preseason all-independent team accolades from The Sporting News and Football News and earned all-independent team honors at the end of the season from Collegefootballnews.com He is a talented top-flight run blocker, as well as a skilled receiver. He is a multi-faceted athlete who can block, catch, and run. Holloway will graduate in May with a degree from the College of Engineering, majoring in computer engineering.
Holloway was unavailable for comment
Tony Driver-Buffalo Bills
(Sixth Round, 178th selection overall)
Driver returned to the defensive side of the ball this past season, after playing tailback his junior year, and became a strong contributor to the Notre Dame secondary. He was a The Sporting News second-team preseason All-American in 2000, and was named to the all-independent team by Football News and Collegefootballnews.com following the 2000 season. He is a tough, physical player who is a good enough athlete to play at and contribute from almost any position on the field. He is a playmaker and is willing to do anything for the good of the team, as seen when he was honored with the Notre Dame Golden Helmet Award this season. Driver is a force on the special teams as well after leading the 1998 Irish in kickoff returns. He finished his career ranked fifth all-time on the Notre Dame career kickoff return list. Driver will graduate in May `01 with a degree from the College of Arts and Letters in sociology.
Driver on his selection:
"It was tough watching yesterday and seeing some of the players being selected, but not me. I just had to realize, though, that this is business with a lot of money being invested in players. The teams were going to want the more experienced players.
I feel I am in a good situation by getting to go to Buffalo. There is a new coaching staff and that will allow everyone to be on the same level. The team is on the upswing and I think I can help this team get better."
Driver on fitting in Buffalo:
"I think if I go into camp and show what I can do, I can start contributing early. Right now, they are talking about putting me at strong safety and a position in the box they call cobra. They want me to be a physical player and the cobra gets involved in the action. They also want me on special teams, returning kicks and being on punt coverage. I'll do research on them before I go up there to better familiarize myself with the team and where I can contribute the most."
Dan O'Leary-Buffalo Bills
(Sixth Round, 195th selection overall)
O'Leary, a team captain, led all 2000 Notre Dame receivers in playing time. He developed into a consistently solid blocker this year to go along with his impressive receiving skills. He has demonstrated an excellent work ethic in improving his techniques. His strong desire to improve himself as a player makes him an even better player. O'Leary graduated in May 2000 with a degree from the College of Arts and Letters with majors in sociology and computer applications. He was enrolled in graduate studies this past fall.
O'Leary on where he was selected:
"I didn't really care. I am just so happy to have the opportunity I will have in Buffalo. My agent told me to expect late fourth round at the earliest and possibly as late as the seventh. I started getting a little nervous once the sixth round really started to progress and I had not had any phone calls. All of a sudden, I had a lot of phone calls all at once. I actually was on the line with Pittsburgh who said they were going to take me when I saw my name appear on the screen. It's so great, too, that Tony (Driver) will be coming out there with me and I am sure we will room together. I am just so thrilled right now with the opportunity I have with Buffalo."
O'Leary on his playing in Buffalo and the team's ability:
"I am really excited because they do not have a long snapper. I will be able to compete for the back-up tight end position, but I feel I am in great shape to contribute right away as the long snapper. Buffalo wanted to sign a guy who could be effective at two positions. I couldn't be happier with the position I am in. I think Buffalo is a team on the rebound and helped themselves a lot with their 12 draft picks. Hopefully, we can all gel there and develop a sense of family and chemistry, like we had at Notre Dame, which will allow us to be a successful team."
Anthony Denman-Jacksonville Jaguars
(Seventh Round, 213th selection overall)
Denman, the 2000 most valuable player, led the 2000 Notre Dame squad in tackles. And earned second-team All-America honors by the Associated Press, The Sporting News and Rivals.com. He also received Independent Player of the Year honors from Football News, as well as third-team All-America accolades. A team captain at Notre Dame, Denman will take toughness, quickness, and a tremendous work ethic with him to the next level. He also is an excellent special teams player and can contribute to a team in a number of different ways. Denman will graduate this May with a degree from the Mendoza College of Business with a double major in management and computer applications.