Four Cougars see their pro futures take off

Mychal Rivera

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – Former College of the Canyons tight end Mychal Rivera was picked in the sixth round of the 2013 National Football League Draft by the Oakland Raiders with the 184th overall pick, while former offensive lineman Lou Alexander, defensive end Marquis Jackson and offensive lineman Caylin Hauptmann have each signed rookie free agent contracts with other NFL teams.

Rivera was the Raiders' seventh pick of the draft with the 184th overall selection and becomes the 11th former Cougar to be drafted. The Birmingham High School graduate was a member of the 2009 COC football team,after using his redshirt year at the University of Oregon in 2008. That season Rivera notched 32 catches for 316 yards and three touchdowns, earning first-team all-conference honors.

Following his time at COC, the eventual 2012 All-SEC Second-Team honoree transferred to the University of Tennessee where he played three years for the Volunteers. At Knoxville, Rivera recorded 76 catches for 1,018 yards and six touchdowns during his three seasons. In 2012 he set a school record for receiving yards in a season by a tight end with 562, breaking current Dallas Cowboy tight end Jason Witten's mark of 493, set in 2002.

The Raiders finished the 2012 season with a 4-12 overall record. They are led by second-year head coach Dennis Allen.

Alexander was signed by the New Orleans Saints as a rookie free agent. The Syracuse offensive lineman had four collegiate starts and blocked for teammate and 1,000-yard rusher Jerome Smith. The Highland High School graduate played for COC in 2008 and 2009 and was a member of the 2008 squad that won a conference championship.

Defensive end Jackson inked with the Minnesota Vikings. Jackson finished his collegiate playing career at Portland State University, after spending two years at Texas Southern. The Birmingham High School alumplayed for COC in 2008 and led the team with 10.5 sacks, for which he was named the Defensive Conference Player of the Year, All-State Defensive Player of the Year and JC All-American First-Team.

Hauptmann, a member of the 2009 COC football team, waspicked up by the Cleveland Browns. The offensive lineman from Beverly HillsHigh School played three years with Florida International and was a three-time All-Sun Belt Conference selection.

College of the Canyons also has five former players that are currently on active rosters in the NFL – Jason Pierre-Paul (New York Giants, COC 2007), Troy Nolan (Chicago Bears, COC 2004-2005), Justin Tryon (New York Giants, COC 2004-2005), Domata Peko (Cincinnati Bengals, COC 2002-2003) andIsaac Sopoaga (Philadephia Eagles, COC 2000-2001).

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