Three Tigers trade stripes for the NFL

Running back Damien Nash is among the MU players drafted.
Monday, April 25, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:41 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

There was a happy ending for Damien Nash.

Nash, Missouri’s starting running back as a junior last season, left the team at the end of the year to declare for the NFL draft.

His departure seemed chilly after Nash was suspended from the Nebraska game on Oct. 30, 2004, after publicly criticizing the offensive plays called in the previous week’s game against Oklahoma State.

The Tennessee Titans chose Nash in the fifth round of the NFL draft with the No. 142 overall pick Sunday. Nash projected no ill will toward Missouri.

“I had a very good career at Missouri,” Nash said. “It was just time for me to move on. I feel very good about my decision.

“I still talk to the coaching staff. There’s no bad blood.”

The second day of the draft brought the tally of former Missouri players chosen to three.

Former Tiger defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison was taken by the Carolina Panthers with the 25th pick of the third round on Saturday, and the Minnesota Vikings picked fellow defensive tackle C.J. Mosley in the sixth round, 191st overall.

In Tennessee, Nash will compete for the backup running back spot with Jarrett Payton, son of NFL great Walter Payton, and former Louisiana Tech running back Joe Smith.

Chris Brown, who finished 2004 with 1,067 rushing yards, will likely be the Titans’ starter.

Brown was part of the 2001 Colorado team that won the Big 12 Conference Championship.

“I never want to be a backup,” Nash said. “That’s just not me. I want to start and help my team anyway I can. I want to play and I’m going to try and push Chris for the starting job.”

Nash, who is listed at 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing 220 pounds, had 792 yards rushing and caught 25 passes for 176 yards last season at Missouri.

“I have a chip on my shoulder,” Nash said. “As a competitor, I always do. A lot of people doubted me, though. I’m ready to go and have fun, put on the pads and play against whoever’s in front of me. That’s the fun part.”

Looking to revamp their defensive line, the Vikings grabbed Mosley after picking defensive end Erasmus James 18th overall. With the departure of Chris Hovan to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers via free agency, the Vikings needed depth at defensive tackle, where 2004 Pro Bowl selection Kevin Williams is their only significant player.

Mosley, who redshirted in 2001, earned first-team All-Big 12 honors as a junior in 2004. He started all 11 games and had 61 tackles, including 14 tackles for losses. He also had 6 1/2 sacks and a blocked kick.

“I feel extremely happy and fortunate,” Mosley said. “They’re very hungry to get to the postseason. I know I’ve got a few things to work on and learn, but I’m hopeful to get in the rotation.”

The 6-foot-2, 315-pound tackle was projected as a first day pick in many mock drafts when he chose to leave school after his junior season.

“Of course I was upset (Saturday) night,” Mosley said. “But I am thrilled to be going to the Vikings. They showed a lot of interest and they think highly of me. The workout went really well and I feel confident about the situation.”

Both Nash and Mosley will join their new teams on Thursday. Mini camps begin on Friday.

Associated Press contributed to this story.

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