April 26, 2009
GREENVILLE, S.C. --- Furman cornerback William Middleton today was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the fifth round of the National Football League (NFL) Draft.
Middleton, a 5-foot-9, 193-pound Atlanta native, was the second player taken in the fifth round and the 125th overall selection. He becomes the third Paladin drafted in the last four years, joining fullback Jerome Felton (2008 Detroit, 5th Round) and quarterback Ingle Martin (2006 Green Bay, 5th Round) and is the highest drafted Paladin since 2000 when safety John Keith was taken in the fourth round by the San Francisco 49ers.
The last Paladin to play for Atlanta was free safety Cam Newton, who signed as a free agent in 2005 and saw action with the Falcons for one season.
"I'm feeling a combination of emotions right now, but most of all I realize I've been given a rare opportunity and want to make the most of it," said Middleton Sunday afternoon.
"We are very happy for William and the opportunity he now has to continue his football career in his hometown," said Furman head coach Bobby Lamb. "If you look at what he accomplished here at Furman, and in particular his senior year, he certainly had one of the most impressive seasons ever by a Paladin cornerback. That level of performance plus a lot of hard work on his part have earned him this opportunity, and we are certainly proud of what he has accomplished and the manner in which he represented himself and Furman football."
Selected to the AFCA and Sports Network All-America squads this past season, the consensus All-Southern Conference performer tallied 95 tackles, including nine for-loss, and five sacks while also totaling a team leading four interceptions and nine pass deflections in 2008. He racked up a Furman single game cornerback record 15 tackles along with a sack and pass deflection in the Paladins' 34-20 win over The Citadel on Oct. 18. The three-year starter registered action in 49 games and logged 35 starts in his career, totaling 194 tackles, 17 tackles for-loss, four fumble recoveries, seven interceptions, and 19 pass deflections. He was the recipient of Furman's Vince Perone Paladin (MVP) Award following the season and participated in the Texas vs. Nation All-Star Classic in El Paso, Texas, in January.
He is a May 2008 graduate with a degree in biology.
Furman NFL Draft Selections Since 2000
2009 William Middleton, CB (Atlanta, 5th Round, 2nd Selection, 125th Overall)
2008 Jerome Felton, FB (Detroit, 5th Round, 11th Selection, 146th Overall)
2006 Ingle Martin, QB (Green Bay, 5th Round, 15th Selection, 148th Overall)
2000 John Keith, S (San Francisco, 4th Round, 14th Selection, 108th Overall)
2000 Des Kitchings, WR (Kansas City, 7th Round, 2nd Selection, 208th Overall)