Six Deacons Agree To Free Agent Contracts
May 2, 2007
Seven Wake Forest football players have agreed to NFL free agent contracts this week, including Jon Abbate (Houston), Bryan Andrews (Cincinnati), Patrick Ghee (Seattle), Willie Idlette (Cleveland), Nate Morton (St. Louis), Riley Swanson (Detroit) and Jyles Tucker (San Diego).
Abbate, who led the Deacons in tackles as a freshman, sophomore and junior, has agreed to a three-year contract with Texans. The native of Powder Springs, Ga., was the first Deacon to ever forfeit his senior year to enter the NFL. In 2006, Abbate was an Sports Illustrated honorable mention All-American, a first Team All-ACC pick by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association and College Football News. A member of the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list, Abbate was only the third player in ACC history to lead his team in tackles as a freshman, sophomore and junior. Abbate ranked second in the ACC with 120 tackles. In 2004, he was the runner-up for ACC Rookie of the Year award behind Calvin Johnson, the second overall selection by Detroit on Saturday.
Andrews, a native of Lima, Ohio, returns to his home state to play for the Bengals. An athletic, playmaking defensive end, Andrews tied for the team lead in tackles for loss with 8.5. His 4.5 sacks ranked second on the team. Andrews played in 13 games and started four of those. He made 26 tackles as a fifth-year senior, including 15 solo stops. Andrews recorded two sacks in the season opener against Syracuse and had 1.5 tackles for loss against Duke. He posted a season-high six tackles at Connecticut, including 2.5 for loss and a half-sack. Andrews also posted sacks against Ole Miss and in the FedEx Orange Bowl against Louisville.
Upon signing a two-year deal with the Seahawks, Ghee will join former teammates Ryan Plackemeier and Steve Vallos in the Emerald City. Plackemeier recently completed his rookie season in Seattle and earlier on Sunday afternoon, Vallos was drafted in the seventh round by the NFC West club.
Ghee was an honorable mention All-ACC selection in 2006. He ranked fifth on the team and 49th in the ACC in tackles with 67. The native of Kingsport, Tenn., started the final 36 games of his career. As a senior, Ghee made 67 tackles, including 41 solo, three interceptions for 68 yards, one tackle for loss, one pass break-up and one fumble recovery. He tied a career-high and had a season-high 10 tackles against Connecticut and made nine stops in the FedEx Orange Bowl against Louisville. Ghee intercepted passes against Ole Miss (returned 43 yards), Clemson (25 yards) and Boston College. His pick in the endzone against the Eagles on November 4 sealed a Wake Forest victory.
Idlette was one of Wake Forest's top big-play threats. The Chattanooga, Tenn., native ranked fourth in the ACC, averaging 9.2 yards per punt return. In 2006, Idlette blossomed as the team's second-leading receiver with 37 catches for 511 yards and three receiving touchdowns. He also carried 25 times for 125 yards and one touchdown. Idlette ranked second on the team with 873 all-purpose yards, the only Deacon to register yardage as a rusher, receiver, punt returner and kick returner. Idlette made arguably the most important reception of the season, a 45-yard grab in the fourth quarter of the ACC Championship Game that set upthe game-winning field goal. He tied a career-high six receptions in his final collegiate game, in the FedEx Orange Bowl against Louisville, for a career-best 91 yards. Idlette had at least one reception of 25 or more yards in each of his final four games for the Deacs.
Morton left his name in the Wake Forest record book as the school's 11th all-time leading receiver with 117 receptions. He ranks eighth all-time with an average of 14.0 yards per catch. The native of Harlingen, Texas, was Wake Forest's leading receiver for a third straight season in 2006. He became the first player to lead the Deacons in receiving for three straight years since Ricky Proehl (1987-89). Morton hauled in 38 catches for 617 yards and four touchdowns as as senior. He set a new career-high seven receptions in the win against Boston College for 94 yards and a score. Morton had six catches against Liberty for a season-high 127 yards. He caught touchdown passes against Liberty, NC State, Boston College and in the 2007 FedEx Orange Bowl against Louisville. Morton posted a strong finish to his career with 25 catches over his final five games for a total of 351 yards and two scores. He was part of one of the most memorable plays of the season, throwing a 19-yard touchdown pass in the Clemson game, a perfect strike to Riley Skinner in double coverage.
Swanson reunites in Detroit with his high school teammate and former Georgia Tech star wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Swanson will forever be remembered for his spectacular fourth-quarter interception while defending Johnson in Wake Forest's ACC Championship Game victory. The native of Fayetteville, Ga., started all 14 games for the Deacons in 2006. He leaves Wake Forest in fourth place on the career passes defended list with 33. He intercepted four passes as a senior and broke up 14 others. Swanson was the team's sixth-leading takcler with 53 stops. His interceptions came against Connecticut, Liberty, Maryland and Georgia Tech.
Tucker goes to the Chargers as an honorable mention All-ACC selection in 2006. The native of Dover, N.J., led Wake Forest and ranked seventh in the ACC in sacks with six for 34 yards. He started all 14 games for Wake Forest's 2006 ACC Championship team. Tucker made 35 tackles during the year to rank second among Wake Forest defensive linemen. He also had 6.5 tackles for loss. Tucker broke up three passes and recovered one fumble. The terms of Tucker's contract were not available as of Sunday night.