The University of North Carolina was everywhere at the NFL draft.
The Tar Heels had a school-record nine players selected, five going on Saturday, including a rare quarterback pick.
Even coach Butch Davis was at the draft on Saturday in New York, working as an analyst for the NFL Network during its coverage of the fourth round.
T.J. Yates became the first UNC quarterback drafted to play quarterback in the NFL in 36 years. The Houston Texans took Yates in the fifth round. Safety Da'Norris Searcy (fourth round to Buffalo), running back Johnny White (fifth to Buffalo), linebacker Quan Sturdivant (sixth to Arizona) and tight end Ryan Taylor (seventh to Green Bay) joined Yates on the third day of the draft.
"These kids deserve this," Davis said during the NFL Network broadcast. "I'm happy watching all of them. It's really rewarding."
Southern California also had nine players drafted, but no other college team had more. The Tar Heels finished a season marred by an NCAA investigation with fewer wins (eight) than draft picks.
The program was rocked a month before the season started by an NCAA investigation for improper agent benefits and academic misconduct. It ended up costing the Heels 14 players for at least one game and seven for the whole season - three from the latter group were taken in the first two rounds of the draft.
Another four players attended the NFL combine - cornerback Kendric Burney, safety Deunta Williams, running back Shaun Draughn and tight end Zack Pianalto -- but did not get drafted.
The nine players falls short of the ACC record (11 by Maryland in 1975) and the seven-round record by Florida State in 1995 (10) but UNC had never had more than seven players taken in one draft (which happened three times and most recently 1998).
Yates joins a select group of UNC quarterbacks in the draft. Ronald Curry was taken in 2002 but to play receiver. Chris Kupec, a 15th round pick in 1975, was the last UNC quarterback taken in the draft.
A look at where UNC's picks fit in the NFL, along with the picks from N.C. State and East Carolina, which each had one player taken:
Robert Quinn, DE, UNC
St. Louis Rams
First round, 14th overall
Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo was the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants team that upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, so he understands the value of defensive ends that can get after the quarterback. With former Virginia star Chris Long, the second pick in the 2008 draft, on the other side, the Rams - who improved by six wins in Spagnuolo's second season - are following the Giants' blueprint.
Bruce Carter, LB, UNC
Second round, 40th overall
Carter played on the outside at UNC but will move inside in the Cowboys' 3-4 scheme. With Rob Ryan, brother of Rex (the Jets' head coach), now in charge of Dallas' defense, Carter will be moved all over the field. There's no question he has the physical gifts to make the transition if he completely heals from major knee surgery. His special teams ability (seven career blocked kicks) is an added bonus.
Marvin Austin, DT, UNC
New York Giants
Second round, 52nd overall
The Giants collect defensive linemen in the draft and rotate them during the game to keep them fresh. Austin will have to shake off the rust from a year away from the field, because of his role in the NCAA investigation, but he will help a Giants defense, which is flush at end but needs new blood in the middle. Austin's No. 1 concern is the same the last time he was eligible in college - his consistency. He will not be in the NFL long if he takes as many plays off in the pros as he did in college.
Greg Little, WR, UNC
Second round, 59th overall
The Browns found a running back in Denver castoff Peyton Hillis (1,177 yards last season) but ranked 29th in passing and 31st in scoring. Hillis (61) and tight end Ben Watson (68) had more catches than any receiver on the roster, which gives Little - who didn't play for UNC last season because of the NCAA investigation - an opportunity to contribute immediately. At 6-3 and 220 pounds, he's not aspeed threat but he's a big target for second-year quarterback Colt McCoy.
Nate Irving, LB, N.C. State
Third round, 67th overall
The Broncos, 4-12 last year, are starting over with former Carolina Panthers coach John Fox. They took Texas A&M pass rusher Von Miller with the second overall pick and added Irving, who was the best linebacker in the ACC last season, in the third round.
"With me in the middle and him on the edge, we could wreak some havoc on every offensive team in the league," Irving said.
Da'Norris Searcy, S, UNC
Fourth round, 100th overall
Searcy's stock took off in a productive senior season, which was shortened by three games because of the NCAA investigation. He led the team with four interceptions and emerged as the top kick returner. The Bills are remaking their secondary and took cornerback Aaron Williams (from Texas) early in the second round. With safety Donte Whitner headed to free agency, Searcy is going to get a chance to play for Chan Gailey's team as a rookie.
Johnny White, RB, UNC
Fifth round, 133rd overall
With returning starters Ryan Houston and Shaun Draughn caught up in the NCAA investigation, White emerged as the team's best offensive option, leading the Heels in rushing and the ACC in all-purpose yards before breaking his right clavicle in the ninth game of the season. He joins a Buffalo offense that already has Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, but he has value as a special-teams player and as a pass-catcher.
T.J. Yates, QB, UNC
Fifth round, 152nd overall
The scapegoat of UNC's 8-5 season in 2009, and booed at a home basketball game that year, Yates stepped up as the program's best player on the field, becoming the first 3,000-yard passer in school history (one of his 37 school records), and off the field, as a team spokesman with the media. His experience (44 starts) and knowledge of a pro-style offense, made him attractive to Houston, which has an established starter in Matt Schaub, but has a wide-open race for the backup slot.
Quan Sturdivant, LB, UNC
Sixth round, 171st overall
His draft stock dipped, perhaps because of a marijuana arrest last summer or because of a lingering hamstring injury which cost him five games in 2010. Either way, Sturdivant has a higher talent grade than a typical sixth-round selection. The Cardinals were a mess last season, one year removed from an unexpected Super Bowl appearance, on both sides of the ball. With the Cards expected to release starting inside linebacker Gerald Hayes, Sturdivant might benefit from the drop in the draft.
Dwayne Harris, WR, ECU
Sixth round, 176th overall
Harris had a productive senior season for ECU with 101 catches and 1,123 yards. He joins a talented Dallas receiving group with Dez Bryant and Miles Austin but the Cowboys might be looking for a third option with the likely exit of Roy Williams. Harris can also help as a kick returner.
Ryan Taylor, TE, UNC
Green Bay Packers
Seventh round, 218th overall
The Super Bowl champs have one of the premier tight ends in the NFL in Jermichael Finley and drafted a tight end (D.J. Williams of Arkansas) in the fifth round but Taylor has value as a special-teams player and as a blocker. He did catch 36 passes, second on the team, despite backing up Zack Pianalto for the first six games of the season.
email@example.com or 919-829-8938