Tarleton Football has three Texans moving on to the National Football League following the final day of the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville. E.J. Speed was the lone Texan to have his name called while Xavier Turner and Tyrell Thompson signed free agent contracts.
Speed became the highest-drafted Texan in school history when the linebacker from Fort Worth had his named called by the Indianapolis Colts with the 164th pick of the draft in the fifth round Saturday afternoon. He’s the highest-drafted Lone Star Conference athlete since Edmond Gates went in the fourth round (111th overall) in 2011 from Abilene Christian.
Speed came to Tarleton in 2014 out of North Crowley High School as a quarterback. He transitioned to wide receiver before settling in on the defensive side of the ball where he became one of the best linebackers to don the purple and white.
He finished his career at Tarleton with 231 tackles, including 36.0 for a loss and 11.5 sacks. He also had three interceptions, including one in his final game against Minnesota State-Mankato.
Speed is the first Texan to be drafted since Rufus Johnson in 2013.
Despite not having their names called, it didn’t take long for Xavier Turner and Tyrell Thompson to reach their professional dreams as the former Texan standouts had free agent contracts waiting on them hours after the completion of the draft. Turner signed with the Arizona Cardinals and Thompson with the Los Angeles Rams.
Turner will head to Phoenix, Arizona to suit up for first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury. He was a priority free agent for the Cardinals after the draft.
The Birdville native named All-LSC First Team and the LSC Offensive Back of the Year. He rushed for 1,469 yards and 22 touchdowns. Turner became the sixth player in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season and tied Derrick Ross’ school record for non-passing touchdowns in a season (22).
Thompson will go from the champions of the LSC to the champions of the NFL’s NFC after signing with the Los Angeles Rams, who played in the Super Bowl last year.
As a senior last year, Thompson closed the book on his Tarleton career with 46 tackles from the interior of the defensive line last season, including 10.0 tackles for a loss and 4.0 sacks. Thompson is a two-time All-LSC First Team selection and was a Don Hansen Honorable Mention All-American after his junior season.