Apr 29, 2011, 11:07 PM EDT
—Ben Ijalana NFL Draft Selection Video — NFL Network
Villanova offensive lineman Ben Ijalana was selected Friday during day two of the National Football League’s 2011 Draft in New York, N.Y. Ijalana is the highest drafted athlete from CAA Football since Delaware’s Joe Flacco was taken by the Baltimore Ravens with the 18th pick overall in 2008.
Ijalana, an offensive tackle for the Wildcats, was taken by the Indianapolis Colts in the second round (49th overall). The Hainesport, N.J., native finished his career as a consensus First Team All-American, a three-time First Team All-CAA Football honoree, and logged a 10th-place finish in the Outland Trophy Award voting at the end of the 2010 season — given to the nation’s top major college football interior lineman. Ijalana led a Wildcat offensive front which averaged 194.9 rushing yards/game and just over 30 points/game.
“Ben might be the best offensive lineman that has ever played at Villanova,” Villanova Head Coach Andy Talley said. “He will be an outstanding professional who will continue to get better. He has the physical tools and mental approach to be a top notch NFL lineman.”
Ijalana’s selection at No. 49 overall gives CAA Football the first FCS player taken in the NFL Draft for the second-straight season and third time in the last four years — 2010: UMass’ Vladimir Ducasse; 61st; NY Jets & 2008: Delaware’s Joe Flacco, 18th; Baltimore Ravens.
“Ben is by far the best offensive lineman that I have had the opportunity to coach,” Villanova Offensive Line Coach Mark Ferrante said. “He is an outstanding athlete who loves the game of football. Ben is a gifted pass blocker who has worked extremely hard over the years to put himself in the position he is in now. As good as he was for us, I believe his best days are ahead of him. Ben will be a huge success at the next level.”
The 6-4, 320 pound Ijalana was the first Villanova player to be drafted since Matt Sherry was selected by Cincinnati in the sixth round of the 2008 Draft. Ijalana is also the first CAA Football player selected by the Indianapolis Colts since the franchise picked James Madison’s Mike Cawley in 1996.
More CAA Football hopefuls will await their names to be called when the 2011 NFL Draft resumes Saturday, April 30, with rounds 4-7 at 12 p.m.
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