TOWSON, Md. – Former defensive end Frank Beltre, former safety Jordan Dangerfield and former wide receiver Gerrard Sheppard of Towson University have all signed rookie free agent contracts with National Football League teams and will report to training camps.
A 6-2, 225-pound defensive end, Beltre signed with the San Diego Chargers.
A 5-11, 200-pound free safety, Dangerfield signed with the Buffalo Bills.
A 6-2, 225-pound wide receiver, Sheppard signed with the Baltimore Ravens.
“We are very proud that these young men have worked so hard to earn the respect of these NFL teams,” said Towson Coach Rob Ambrose. “Each one of these student-athletes are great people along with being great players and have well represented Towson University over and over. I fully expect them to continue to do so in the NFL.
“I think they will have an advantage when they go to NFL camps,” he added. “Coming through our program, they have learned the right way to do things and they know what is expected of them. They have strong character and they will always represent their teams well.”
A three-year starter at defensive end for the Tigers, Beltre earned All-Colonial Athletic Association honors three times. A first team All-CAA selection as a junior and senior, he earned third team notice as a sophomore. In his career, he played in all 45 games and started 40 of them. As a sophomore, he made 85 tackles, the second-highest total among all CAA defensive linemen. In his junior season, he had 68 tackles, third among all defensive linemen in the CAA.
In his career, he made 232 tackles, 21st on Towson’s all-time list of tackle leaders. Beltre also had 38 tackles for lost yardage in his career and made 11 sacks.
He earned third team All-American honors from The Sports Network.
A three-year starter at safety for the Tigers, Dangerfield was named as a first team All-CAA selection as a junior and senior. One of the co-captains of the Tigers’ back-to-back CAA championship teams, he was named as a second team All-America selection by Beyond Sports Network and a third team honoree by The Sports Network.
As a sophomore and junior, he led the Tigers in tackles. He made 96 tackles and broke up five passes during the 2010 season. In 2011, he played a key role in the Tigers’ amazing turnaround as Towson posted a 9-3 record and won the CAA championship, only one year after recording a 1-10 mark. As a senior, he helped the Tigers win a share of their second straight CAA championship with a 7-4 record. He made 69 tackles in 10 games and broke up six passes.
In his three-year career with the Tigers, he made 258 tackles and finished 11th on Towson’s all-time list. He also had 13 pass breakups, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. In three years at Towson, he played in 31 games and started 30 of them.
He transferred to Towson from Hofstra when Hofstra discontinued its football program.
A two-year performer at wide receiver, Sheppard caught 52 passes for 584 yards and five touchdowns for the Tigers. A transfer from the University of Connecticut, he joined the Tigers in time for the 2011 season. In 2011, he caught 22 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns. Included among his touchdown receptions was a 52-yard TD pass that gave Towson a 38-31 lead in its NCAA FCS playoff game against Lehigh.
In 2012, he was the Tigers’ second-leading receiver with 30 catches for 310 yards and three touchdowns. He caught a 23-yard touchdown pass in a win over St. Francis and had a nine-yard TD reception in the Tigers’ upset bid at Louisiana State. In the Tigers’ late-season win over Rhode Island, he had a 23-yard touchdown catch.
Sheppard was also a valuable special teams performer for the Tigers.
It is possible that more Tiger football players will sign with NFL teams in the coming weeks.
There is currently one former Towson football player who is active in the NFL. All-Pro offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod, ’07 played for the New Orleans Saints for seven years and is now a first-year member of the Chicago Bears.
Four other Towson University football alumni have played in the NFL, including offensive lineman Stan Eisenhooth, ’87, punter Sean Landeta, ’83, running back David Meggett, ’89 and running back Tony Vinson, ’94.
Eisenhooth was an offensive lineman for the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts who appreared in 29 games from 1987 to 1989.
Landeta was an All-Pro punter and a member of the New York Giants’ Super Bowl XXI and Super Bowl XXV championship teams. He punted 1,401 times in a 22-year career while averaging 43.0 yards per punt. He played for the Giants from 1985-to-1993, the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams from 1993-to-1996, the Tampa Bay Bucaneers in 1997, the Green Bay Packers in 1998 and the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-to-2002. He returned to the Rams for the 2003 and 2004 seasons before finishing his career with the Eagles in 2005.
Meggett played in the NFL for 10 years as a running back and kick return specialist. A member of the New York Giants’ Super Bowl XXV championship team, he played for the Giants for six years. He also spent three seasons with the New England Patriots and one year with the New York Jets. During his career, he averaged 22.2 yards per kickoff return and scored one touchdown. He also averaged 10.6 yards per punt return and had seven punt returns for touchdowns.
A fifth-round draft pick by San Diego, Vinson had a three-year NFL career which was hindered by shoulder problems. He played in 16 games for the Baltimore Ravens from 1997-to-1999.