May 1, 2007
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Three Northwestern football players -- cornerback Marquice Cole (Hazel Crest, Ill./Hillcrest), offensive lineman Ryan Keenan (Westlake, Ohio/St. Edward) and linebacker Nick Roach (Milwaukee, Wis./Milwaukee Lutheran) -- have signed free-agent contracts with the National Football League.
Cole, a four-year letterwinner who played in 43 games and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2005, signed with the Oakland Raiders. He totaled seven career interceptions and ranked second in the Big Ten (five interceptions) in that category in 2005. Cole was a member of the 2006 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list. For his career, he registered 114 tackles and 18 pass deflections.
Keenan, who made a successful transition from defensive to offensive line during his collegiate career, signed with the New York Giants, joining former teammate Barry Cofield. Keenan started at offensive guard in 2005 and offensive tackle in 2006. He earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2006 and played in the 2007 Hula Bowl postseason all-star game. Keenan was the Wildcats' off-season strength and conditioning champion in both 2005 and '06.
Roach, whose career was cut short with a career-ending broken leg against Michigan State on Oct. 21, 2006, signed with the San Diego Chargers, joining former teammate Luis Castillo. He started 32 of 45 career games played and closed his career with 241 tackles (137 solos), 16 TFL's and 2 interceptions. An Academic All-Big Ten selection, he was the Wildcats' 2006 co-Most Valuable Player.
In addition, two other Northwestern players have been invited to rookie camps: tight end Erryn Cobb (Woodridge, Ill./Downers Grove North) will camp with the New York Jets and linebacker Demetrius Eaton (Milwaukee, Wis./Milwaukee Vincent) will join the Chicago Bears.