May 1, 2006
SEATTLE - Washington offensive tackle Joe Toledo on Sunday became the fourth UW offensive lineman since 2001 to be selected in the NFL Draft when he was chosen by the Miami Dolphins in the fourth round.
With Toledo's selection Sunday, Washington has had at least one player drafted by an NFL team in 56 of the past 57 years, dating back to 1949. Toledo is the second UW offensive tackle drafted in as many years -- joining former teammate Khalif Barnes, a second-round selection of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005 -- and the eighth UW lineman drafted since 1998.
Toledo watched the draft with family and friends at his home in San Diego. The first three rounds were completed Saturday, with the fourth through seventh rounds conducted Sunday. Toledo says that after waiting through the long first day of selections on Saturday, it was a relief to hear his name called early on Sunday.
"I had spoken with a few teams who had told me they were thinking about taking me in the late third round, or early fourth," he says. "It was a relief to have it over with so early. Now I know where I'm going, and can get started preparing for the first minicamp in a couple of weeks."
The selection of Toledo by the Dolphins is remarkable considering that the San Diego native started just six games at offensive tackle in his UW career. All of those starts came during Toledo's senior season of 2005, his first at the position after moving from tight end in spring drills. Toledo missed five games during the 2005 season with an injury, and appeared at both right and left tackle throughout the year.
One year ago Sunday, Toledo had just finished the Huskies' spring practices, marking his first 18 practices at offensive tackle in his career. Now, he is an offensive tackle on an NFL roster.
"I put in a lot of hard work over the past four or five years, and had a lot of good coaches that helped prepare me along the way," Toledo says. "I owe a lot to Coach [Keith] Gilbertson for my development as a football player, and to Coach [Mike] Denbrock especially for helping me after the switch last year.
"Ever since I first starting playing football, it's been my goal to be in the NFL. I'm just excited to get down there and get to work."
In addition to Toledo, four other UW seniors were added to NFL rosters over the weekend -- defensive tackle Manase Hopoi signed a free-agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings, tailback James Sims signed with the New York Giants, offensive tackle Robin Meadow signed with the Baltimore Ravens and linebacker Evan Benjamin signed with the Seattle Seahawks.
Teams can begin negotiating with undrafted players immediately following the draft; any other signings of UW players will be announced upon their completion.