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Auburn places four in NFL first round

AUBURN, Ala. (April 23, 2005) -- Auburn made one final case to be called the nation's best college football team.

The Tigers became the first team to have an entire offensive backfield -- two running backs and a quarterback -- selected in the first round of the NFL draft since the AFL-NFL merger in 1967 and the first in the Southeastern Conference to have four first-rounders.

Tailback Ronnie Brown was the second overall pick by the Miami Dolphins and Carnell Williams went to Tampa Bay three picks later. Cornerback Carlos Rogers and quarterback Jason Campbell went to Washington with the ninth and 25th picks, respectively.

Auburn had never had more than two players chosen in Round 1. The Tigers went 13-0 last season, but were shut out of the national championship game and had to state their case for No. 1 off the field.

The draft "showed everyone why we should have been competing for the national title this year," Campbell said.

Williams and Brown were only the fourth running back tandem selected in the first round of the NFL draft since the AFL-NFL merger in 1967. They join former Auburn runners Rudi Johnson and Stephen Davis in the NFL.

As for the backfield sweep, Tigers head coach Tommy Tuberville said, "I don't think it's ever happened before and I don't think it will ever happen again."

"It's one of those things that you feel good knowing that we knew we had a good football team and now this puts the icing on the cake knowing that we are really starting to be recognized by the efforts of the NFL people who have done all of the background work," Tuberville said.

Rogers was the Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation's top defensive back and Campbell was the SEC offensive player of the year and Williams was an AP All-American.

But the biggest postseason honor came on Day 1 of the draft.

Campbell didn't become a star until his senior year, blossoming under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Al Borges and having a career year.

"I've grown a lot through all these years," he said. "I've learned a lot of knowledge about the football game and I've just been patient. Everything has worked out for me."

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