ORONO, Maine — Jerron McMillian of the University of Maine became the highest drafted player in program history on Saturday afternoon when he was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the fourth round of the National Football League Draft.
The 5-foot-11, 203-pound safety was the 133rd pick overall. He is the 14th UMaine player chosen in the NFL draft and is among 44 who have signed NFL contracts.
Waterville native John Huard had been the program’s highest draft pick before McMillian. He was a fifth-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 1967.
Two of McMillian’s classmates, safety Trevor Coston and tailback Pushaun Brown, also have agreed to free-agent contracts. Coston signed with the Chicago Bears, while Brown agreed to terms with the New York Jets, where former UMaine star Mike DeVito is a key contributor.
“It’s real exciting,” said UMaine coach Jack Cosgrove. “Regardless of the round, you’re excited for the young man, the opportunity that somebody wants you.”
McMillian anchored the Black Bears’ secondary during the last three seasons. McMillian, from Hillside, N.J., was an All-Colonial Athletic Association first-team selection in 2011 after ranking second on the Black Bears and fifth among CAA defensive backs with 92 tackles, including 11.5 for a loss of yardage. He also made an interception and broke up five passes.
Prior to this season, the last UMaine draft pick was Daren Stone (Atlanta Falcons, sixth round) in 2007. Kevin McMahan was the last pick of the 2006 draft. He went to the Oakland Raiders.
“There’s obviously been a lot of interest in Jerron based on his numbers. He got to the combine, did a great job,” Cosgrove said.
Coston received plenty of attention and was on the radar of teams, including the Miami Dolphins, but did not get drafted. He instead joins a long line of former Black Bears who have joined NFL teams as free agents.
While McMillian is considered more of a run-stopper, Coston has proven he can defend the pass. He also could be utilized as a kick returner.
Last fall, the 5-10, 203-pound Coston earned All-CAA first-team recognition as a punt returner (9.7-yard average) and was a second-team pick at defensive back. He ranked third on the team with 83 tackles and had nine pass break-ups.
Coston tied for the league lead with six interceptions in 2011 on his way to fourth-team All-America accolades.
“Everybody in that locker room and in our program will be excited for them,” Cosgrove said. “it is very motivating for us as coaches, we can be participants in the development of a young man to get the opportunity to play on the greatest stage in the country.
Brown (5-10, 210), from North Brunswick, N.J., was UMaine’s leading rusher last season. He carried 226 times for 1,093 yards and scored 11 touchdowns and missed a game due to injury.
“It’s very motivating for the young guys in our program to say, ‘I played with that guy. I was out on the field with this guy,’” Cosgrove said.
UMaine’s active pro players include DeVito, Jovan Belcher, Kansas City; Montell Owens, Jacksonville; Stephen Cooper, San Diego; Lofa Tatupu, now with Atlanta; Matt Mulligan of West Enfield, who recently signed with St. Louis; and Stone, who is with Calgary of the Canadian Football League.