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Former EAC football players drafted into the NFL

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Former EAC football players drafted into the NFL

By Lori Dugan

Thatcher—Two former Eastern Arizona College football players, Christo Bilukidi, class of 2010, and Michael Smith, class of 2009, were selected by teams in the National Football League Draft Saturday. Bilukidi was drafted by the Oakland Raiders with the 19th pick, in the sixth round, the 189th overall pick. Smith was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the fifth pick of the seventh round, and the 212th overall selection.

Bilukidi, from Ottawa, Ontario, played for two years at Eastern and went on to start for the Georgia State Panthers as their top defensive lineman, playing primarily defensive tackle but also lining up at defensive end. In the 2010 season, he had 51 tackles, five sacks, seven tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. As a senior in 2011, he led GSU with five sacks and nine tackles for loss, along with 38 tackles, a pass breakup, a fumble recovery, and a forced fumble.

Smith, EAC’s 2009 Athlete of the Year, was with his family, in his hometown of Tucson, when the Buccaneers called him with the good news.

“It is a great opportunity. I am glad to be a Buccaneer,” he said. “I went out to visit them earlier in the month. They said they loved me. They got a new coaching staff, and I am very excited to play for them.”

As a backup to Robert Turbin, Utah State’s starting running back (who was the Seattle Seahawks’ fourth-round pick this year), Smith didn’t have a chance to be a featured back, but Smith still rushed for 870 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011, averaging 7.6 yards per carry.

Smith finished his college career at Utah State with two of his best games, rushing for 121 yards in the regular season finale against New Mexico State and 157 in a bowl game matchup against Ohio.

“We are really proud of both of these young men and we are proud of our program,” said EAC Head Football Coach John O’Mera. “While our number one priority with the players is getting them an education and moving them into a University setting, we can’t help but be thrilled that two of our athletes have made it all the way to the NFL.”