As soon as the number popped into his cell phone Saturday afternoon, Mistral Raymond instantly recognized the area code. The University of South Florida defensive back merely hoped the voice on the other end would deliver the good news he was anticipating.
Raymond wasn't disappointed. As it turns out, the two days he spent earlier in the month meeting with Minnesota Vikings brass was enough to convince the organization to use a sixth-round pick to select him on the final day of the 2011 NFL draft.
"When they asked, 'Hey Mistral, are you ready to do this, are you ready to be a Viking,' man, I can't explain the feeling that went through my body," said Raymond, who was selected 170th overall. "It was such a grueling process, and just to see it all come to an end and to be able to accomplish what I have is just truly a blessing. I just feel so very fortunate."
Raymond, who went from walk-on to starter to team captain in three years at USF, was a second-team All-Big East pick as a senior after finishing with 56 tackles, one interception and a team-high seven pass breakups. He showed his versatility during his time in the program, playing both cornerback and safety, but he said the Vikings will first give him a look at cornerback, where he spent the majority of the 2010 season.
Raymond was the first of two Bulls selected in the sixth round. Linebacker Jacquian Williams, a Riverview High product who was a second-team All-Big East pick as a senior after leading USF with 71 tackles, was the 202nd overall selection by the New York Giants. It is the second consecutive year the Giants drafted a USF player. New York used its first-round pick in 2010 on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
"I love the game of football and I'm blessed beyond all measures to have the chance to play in the NFL," Williams said in a USF press release. "I felt like I did everything I could to put myself in this position, so seeing all that hard work pay off is great. I think my best football is ahead of me and I'm going to continue to work as hard as I can to make my family and the Giants organization proud."
Raymond and Williams were two of 11 players from Florida state colleges drafted Saturday. That group included Miami linebacker Colin McCarthy, a product of Clearwater Central Catholic who was selected in the fourth round (109th overall) by the Tennessee Titans.
Also drafted Saturday was Georgia Tech running back Anthony Allen, a former Jesuit standout who was a seventh-round pick (225th overall) by the Baltimore Ravens.