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Applewhite to join Patriots

New England will add University of Texas star Major Applewhite to the roster when the undrafted rookie free agent signings are made official, Patriots Football Weekly writer Shane Donaldson has learned.

Representative Steve Wiener confirmed that Applewhite will join Louisiana State's Rohan Davey as the newcomers at the position behind Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady and veteran Damon Huard. The addition will give the Patriots four quarterbacks, the same number the team entered training camp with each of the last two seasons.

A talented player for the Longhorns, Applewhite compiled a 22-8 record as a starter and owns 48 school records. However, he lost the starting job and much of his playing time to Chris Simms in his junior and senior seasons, creating a platoon situation in which Simms got the majority of the action.

Applewhite completed 37-of-55 passes (63 percent) for 379 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in 10 regular season games last fall. Despite the limited playing time, he finished with a huge bang. Applewhite replaced a struggling Simms at halftime of the Big 12 championship game against Colorado, Applewhite completed 15-of-25 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns, nearly rallying the Longhorns from a 17-point halftime deficit.

On the heels of that performance, Applewhite had a huge day at the Holiday Bowl, passing for 473 yards and four touchdowns against Washington. In his final six quarters of college football he passed for 713 yards and six touchdowns.

"This kid the most popular Texas Longhorn of all time," Wiener said. "Major is just a tremendous kid. He had no idea at all the Patriots might be interested; he never thought of himself in that situation."

Applewhite received interest from several teams, especially Minnesota, Atlanta and Dallas. His draft status was hurt by the platoon situation with Simms and talk of a knee injury, but Wiener said there is no reason for concern there.

A roster spot would not be out of the question for Applewhite. Head Coach Bill Belichick often says during training camp that he will keep the best 53 players, regardless of position. New England kept four quarterbacks on the active roster for the 2000 season, when Drew Bledsoe, John Friesz, Brady and Michael Bishop all made the team.

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