MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State’s number of 2007 NFL Draft picks rose to three on Sunday with the sixth-round selection of running back Thomas Clayton by the San Francisco 49ers and the seventh-round pick of linebacker Zach Diles by the Houston Texans.
Combined with the third-round selection of wide receiver Yamon Figurs by the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday, the picks of Clayton and Diles pushed K-State’s 2007 NFL Draft total to its highest level since four Wildcats were taken in the 2003 Draft.
Clayton and Diles are the 44th and 45th Wildcats, respectively, to be drafted since 1992 and marked the 11th time in the last 15 drafts that Kansas State has had multiple players selected.
The 12th player taken in the sixth round and the 186th pick overall, Clayton is the first Wildcat to be drafted by San Francisco since the 49ers selected quarterback Dennis Morrison in the 1973 Draft.
A physical back who also possesses great speed, Clayton was a solid contributor throughout his career at Kansas State. He appeared 24 games and made 13 starts in three seasons with the Wildcats, totaling 1,030 rushing yards and eight touchdowns (seven rushing and one receiving).
Clayton’s best season came during the 2005 campaign, when he rushed for 637 yards on 137 attempts with four touchdowns in nine games. During 2006, Clayton got off to a solid start and rushed for 322 yards on 67 carries in five games before going down with an injury in practice.
Diles, the eighth pick of the seventh round and the 218th player drafted overall, is the first K-State player ever to be selected by the Texans and should be very comfortable in his new surrounding after spending a week with Wildcats in Houston at the 2006 Texas Bowl and playing his final college game at Reliant Stadium.
A big-hitting, athletic middle linebacker who made the most of his abilities and opportunities during his two-year career at Kansas State, Diles appeared in 24 games and collected 149 total tackles, including 13 for losses, for a rock-solid average of 6.2 stops per games as a Wildcat.
A starter in all 13 games during 2006, Diles finished the season second on the team and eighth in the Big 12 with 99 total tackles, including 7.5 tackles for losses. He also ranked fourth in the Big 12 with 70 total tackles during conference play – an average of nearly nine stops per game – and picked up honorable mention All-Big 12 accolades from the league’s coaches.
During his rookie season in 2005, Diles finished fourth on the team in tackles with 50 despite not starting a game and became the first defender in the Bill Snyder era to collect 50 tackles without a start.