ST. LOUIS — Zac Stacy made draft-day history for his school. He made the St. Louis Rams pretty happy, too.
The Rams were so enamored of the Vanderbilt running back that they finished off their draft class early by trading up to get Stacy in the fifth round on Saturday. Besides holding school records for rushing yards and touchdowns, the 5-8, 216-pound Stacy is the first Vandy back to get chosen since the NFL went to a seven-round draft.
He's the school's first back to get drafted, period, since the New Orleans Saints took Frank Mordica in the ninth round in 1980. The Rams traded both of their sixth-rounders to Houston for the chance to snag him and end Vandy's 33-year slump.
"He was one of probably the last guys on our board that we were really, really jacked about," general manager Les Snead said. "The rest was just going to be people we liked but (were) not jacked about, so at that point in time we said, 'Let's go get him.'"
The Rams wrapped up a seven-player class by trading up, just as they did to get West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin with the eighth overall pick. On the final day, they also took Alabama center Barrett Jones in the fourth round and Miami cornerback Brandon McGee earlier in the fifth, to go with linebacker Alec Ogletree in the first, and USC safety T.J. McDonald and West Virginia wide receiver Stedman Bailey in the third.
"From start to finish, very pleased," Snead said. "Each player fits a role, each player was coveted."
Stacy was third in the SEC with 1,141 yards rushing as a senior with 10 touchdowns. He's the school's only player to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons and holds school career records of 3,143 yards and 30 touchdowns, was second-team all-SEC and the MVP of the Music City Bowl.
"Zac is a very explosive runner," coach Jeff Fisher said. "He's a complete back and a strong inside kind of power runner that kind of gives us a change of pace."
Stacy, who set the school single-season rushing record with 1,193 yards as a junior, blossomed the last two seasons after totaling seven starts the first two years. He had anticipated getting picked on the final day. He knew the Rams had been interested.
"I was just sitting around, relaxing, not trying to stress about it, watching a little bit of thedraft," Stacy said. "It all worked out great.
The Rams need depth at running back after losing Steven Jackson in free agency, leaving them with a pair of second-year players in Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead. Both Richardson, a seventh-round find last year as the change-of-pace back behind Jackson, and Pead, who had a disappointing season after getting picked in the second round, are more finesse-type backs.
"We're looking forward to Isaiah taking a step and Daryl continuing to improve," Fisher said. "This was a guy we thought had a chance to make some plays for us."
Jones's career has been so highly-decorated, he's banished many of his trophies to a closet.
The 6-4, 306-pound Jones won the Outland Trophy in 2011 and the Rimington Award in 2012, plus there's the Jacobs Blocking Trophy (2011) and the William V. Campbell Award (2012), commonly referred to as the academic Heisman. The 113th overall selection played on three national championship teams.
"I play because I love the game and I play to win," Jones said. "I feel like I'm a winner and that's the attitude I'm going to bring to St. Louis."
Jones, who did not allow a sack as a senior, had been hoping to get picked in the third round, "but I didn't and that's all right. I think a lot of people get hung up on where they get drafted. I'm just glad to have an opportunity."
He's not yet well-schooled on the Rams, but give him time. Jones earned an accounting degree in three years and added a master's degree last December.
"I've watched them on TV, but that's really the extent of my familiarity," Jones said. "Ask me in a few weeks and I'll have a lot of familiarity with them."
Jones was a four-year starter and has played at guard, center and tackle, and projects as an interior line backup for now on a team that's set after signing tackle Jake Long in free agency. He made half of his 50 college starts at right guard, and was a third-day draft pick due to scouting assessments that deemed him a bit shy on athleticism with most teams talking to him about center and guard.
Jones is rehabbing from foot surgery after the national championship game and expects to be ready soon.
"Those kind of guys find ways to play in this league a long time, and that's our hope with Barrett," Fisher said. "What he does almost immediately is gives you a comfort level of knowing you've got a guy, if not a starter, that can back up multiple positions."
McGee was a captain his senior season and started his last two years with the Hurricanes, totaling three interceptions, 11 pass deflections and 109 tackles in 44 games. His official 40 time is 4.37 seconds, but McGee says he's run in the 4.2s, and the Rams think he might help on special teams, too.
McGee tied for sixth on the team in tackles his senior season and figures to provide depth for a team that entered the final day of the draft with just four cornerbacks on the roster. After the Rams took him with the 149th overall pick, McGee said he didn't know the franchise had been that interested.