Three of Georgia Southern's 11 defensive starters from 2012 are heading for the NFL.
The day after safety J.J. Wilcox was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft, safety Darius Eubanks and defensive tackle Brent Russell were offered free-agent contracts.
Eubanks inked with the Minnesota Vikings, and Russell signed with the Chicago Bears Saturday after the draft.
Though Eubanks and his family were disappointed his name wasn't called during the draft, there was a silver lining.
"It's almost better getting picked up after the draft, because I had more choices," Eubanks said on the phone Saturday. "I was disappointed that I didn't get drafted, and I could see it on (my family's) faces that they were too, but at the end of the day, it's not how you start, it's how you finish."
Eubanks said he chose the Vikings over the New York Jets.
Russell couldn't even watch the draft. One coach suggested he go fishing, but Russell said there's no cell reception where he fishes.
"I was just trying to relax," he said Saturday. "I was actually just watching some movies at the house."
Eubanks thanks the Georgia Southern coaching staff for instilling in him a winning attitude, among other things.
"Oh man, it's amazing what they did for me," Eubanks said. "I'm thankful to (defensive coordinator Jack) Curtis for letting me play safety my senior year. They taught me how to perform, and how to be an example to other guys in how to carry yourself, how to be professional. They taught me how to be a student of the game. That defense we ran, it wasn't the simplest defense."
Russell thanked head coach Jeff Monken for raising his own expectations of himself.
"It's what I respect about him the most," Russell said of his three-year coach. "He didn't go off his expectations or the community's expectations. He wanted us to raise our standards so we were letting ourselves down before we were letting him or the community down. When it became his program, we had some success, and I have no doubt in the Sun Belt, he's going to do great things."
Russell expects to play the shade nose guard in Chicago, one spot over from the 3-technique he played in 2010, though in a similar, 4-3 system.
"I've actually been on the phone with (Bears) defensive line coach Mike Thair for the last 30 minutes talking about their scheme and what to expect," Russell said. "They actually run something similar to my sophomore year at Georgia Southern with (then-defensive coordinator Brent) Pry."
Russell lined up just about everywhere on the defensive line while at GSU, and even practiced as an offensive lineman when he was asked. Like Eubanks and Wilcox, a little versatility can't hurt in the NFL.
"Right now I'm a defensive nose guard," Russell said. "I was talking to some other teams earlier in the day. They were like, 'We love you as a d-lineman, but if it takes talking to a general manager, can you play o-line, too?' I was like, 'You tell them whatever you want. I can play anything you need.'"
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.