Smith, Thompson Selected In Second Round Of NFL Draft

April 20, 2002

PULLMAN, Wash. ---- Washington State was well represented on the first day of the NFL Draft, as outside linebacker Raonall Smith and free safety Lamont Thompson were selected in the second round.

Smith was taken by the Minnesota Vikings with the 38th pick. The Gig Harbor, Wash., native was a two-time All-Pac-10 selection and tallied 79 tackles, including nine behind the line, in 2001. Smith provided two memorable highlights for WSU fans last season, reaching the endzone on an interception return against Boise State and a fumble return against Arizona State.

'Mike Tice, the head coach, is the one that called. He just said they were going to draft me, but he didn't tell me what round or what pick or anything,' Smith said. 'I'm still kind of in shock. I don't really know how to react.'

Smith had planned a diversion to keep his mind off of the draft, and was on his way when he got the call.

'I was going to watch a movie, 'Changing Lanes' with Samuel L. Jackson in it and I got the call,' Smith said. 'I didn't have a clue that Minnesota was going to pick me. I was told Green Bay or Kansas City. Minnesota jumped up and got me early. Honestly, I was really surprised.'

Smith, who spent the day in Pullman with family and friends, is headed to Minneapolis Sunday.

'I fly out at seven in the morning, and I'll be there for a day probably doing some media stuff,' Smith said. 'This is definitely a good day today.'

Thompson was drafted less than 40 minutes after Smith by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 41st pick. He will join a defense that already features young stars in Takeo Spikes, Justin Smith, and Brian Simmons, and is excited about the opportunity.

'I feel real good about it,' Thompson said. 'I worked out for the coaches and got a good, good impression that they wanted me. That felt good to know. I'm just excited about the situation that I'm going into.'

The Richmond, Calif., native accomplished as much as any defensive back in Cougar history. Thompson played in the Rose Bowl as a true freshman and left on a high note after being named the Most Valuable Player in the 2001 Sun Bowl. Thompson is the Pac-10's all-time leader in interceptions with 24, and earned first team AP All-America honors while leading the team in tackles as a senior.

Thompson was touted as a possible first round selection, but didn't allow nerves to get the best of him after the first 32 picks were exhausted.

'I wasn't (nervous) at all because it was out of my control,' Thompson said. 'I knew anywhere from the late first round to the mid second round that I could be drafted. I'm glad things happened the way they did.'

Rounds four through seven of the NFL Draft take place Sunday.

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