Johnathan Cyprien highest Panther drafted into the NFL

It was a great week for FIU football as five players joined the NFL.

From Panther to Jaguar

Maybe the movie-size cameras set up for the ESPN live shot in a room at the Sole on the Ocean Resort and Spa early Friday evening were the first clue that Johnathan Cyprien would not have to wait long to become an NFL player and the highest FIU Panther ever drafted into the NFL.

Cyprien dressed in a light yellow Polo sweater and khaki pants sat at a long table in front of the cameras eagerly awaiting the start of the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, which began at 6:30 p.m.

Less than five minutes later at 6:33 p.m. Cyprien’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, received a text from the Jacksonville Jaguars asking if he was with Cyprien. The nervous excitement in the room among Cyprien, his family and friends went up a notch when Cyprien’s cell phone rang at 6:35 p.m. On the line was the Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley asking Cyprien if he was ready to become a Jaguar.

Cyprien pumped his right fist in the air as he became the first pick of the second round and the highest FIU Panther ever drafted into the NFL surpassing T.Y. Hilton, who was chosen third by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2012 NFL Draft.

“This feels great to be able to play NFL football,” said a beaming Cyprien. “It’s nice that I stay in Florida but no matter where the football field is I was ready to play. I had a great visit to Jacksonville. The new coaching staff is ready to win and I’m ready to win too.”

With the Jaguars and Colts in the same AFC South Division, Cyprien will face Hilton twice a year and might even have the chance to cover Hilton should he come across Cyprien’s coverage area.

“I haven’t had a chance to speak to T.Y. yet,” Cyprien said. “But his dad wished me luck and now I get to play T.Y. two times a year. It’s going to be great.”

According to Rosenhaus, there was a 30 percent chance that Cyprien was going to be drafted in the first round. However, Cyprien was not among the three safeties picked in Thursday’s first round. The ever composed Cyprien took it in stride.

“It was real mellow Thursday night,” Cyprien said. “My agent told me I was expected to go in the second round. There was a chance I would go in the first round so I watched the draft and I’m happy for everybody that went in the first round. I don’t know where I was going. The draft is crazy so I’m just happy that I am in the NFL.”

In his wildest dreams when Cyprien arrived at FIU four years ago out of North Miami Beach High he did not expect to be the first pick of the second round of the NFL Draft. But after a stellar four-year career at FIU where Cyprien leaves as the all-time leading tackler he’s ready for the next step in his football career.

“I was just thinking of doing good in college and making a name for myself and the FIU program,” Cyprien said of his goals when he started at FIU in 2009. “Now I get to do that in the NFL.”

Nine Panthers in the NFL

Panthers drafted 2013Four more Panthers will join Cyprien in the NFL.

  • Defensive end Tourek Williams was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the sixth round Friday.
  • Left tackle Caylin Hauptmann signed a free agent deal with the Cleveland Browns.
  • Defensive back Jose Cheeseborough signed a free agent deal with the Baltimore Ravens.
  • Defensive back Junior Mertile signed a free agent deal with the New York Giants on Sunday

The five Panthers join former Panthers Antwan Barnes (Jets), Anthony Gaitor (Buccaneers), T.Y. Hilton (Colts) and Nick Taylor (Vikings) in the league to give FIU nine players currently in the NFL.

By Pete Pelegrin