April 24, 2004
Notre Dame, Ind. -
Notre Dame had two former players selected on the first day of the 2004 National Football League (NFL) draft on Saturday. The first Irish player chosen was running back Julius Jones who was drafted 43rd overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round. Just 17 picks later (60th overall), the New Orleans Saints made linebacker Courtney Watson its second-round choice.
Jones' selection is the highest a Notre Dame running back has been picked since Jerome Bettis was chosen 10th overall by the Los Angeles Rams in 1993. This year's NFL draft also marks the first time two Notre Dame players were selected on day one (first three rounds) since offensive guard Mike Gandy (Chicago Bears, third round) and cornerback Brock Williams (New England Patriots, third round) were both picked on the first day in 2001.
The 2004 NFL draft concludes on Sunday, April 25, with four more rounds of selections beginning at 10:00 a.m. (EST). If any additional former Notre Dame players are chosen, information on those athletes will be available on www.und.com.
The following are brief biographies on Jones and Watson:
Big Stone Gap, Va. (Powell Valley HS)
One of four team captains of the 2003 Irish squad, Jones was voted Notre Dame's National Monogram Club Most Valuable Player for his performance as a senior. A native of Big Stone Game, Va.., Jones rushed for 1,268 yards in '03 (the fourth-best single-season total in Irish history) and finished his career ranked fourth on the ND all-time rushing list with 3,018 career rushing yards. Jones was one of only two players nationally to rush for 200 or more yards in three or more games in '03 and set the Irish single-game rushing record with 262 yards against Pittsburgh. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry and scored 10 rushing touchdowns in '03 and finished his career with 29 rushing touchdowns. Jones also is the ND record holder for career kickoff return yards with 1,660. Jones will graduate in May with a degree in sociology.
Sarasota, Fla. (Riverview HS)
A three-year starter at middle linebacker for Notre Dame, Watson was a two-time Butkus Award semi-finalist who earned first-team All-America honors in 2002. Also was named to the 2003 AFCA Good Works Football Team for his contributions to the Notre Dame and South Bend communities (one of 11 players nationally to win the award). Created and developed the football team's community initiative entitled Tackle The Arts. Led ND with 117 tackles in '03, including 15 for loss (70 yards), 3.5 quarterback sacks (25 yards), intercepted two passes, broke up three passes and forced a fumble. Compiled more than 200 tackles over his final two seasons, also leading the Irish in tackles in 2002 with 90 (despite missing three games with an injury). A native of Sarasota, Fla., Watson is a 2003 graduate of the Mendoza College of Business with a degree in management and is currently in graduate studies at Notre Dame.