CONWAY, Ark. (UCA) -- Former University of Central Arkansas wide receiver Dominique Croom received a free agent offer from the Cleveland Browns on Saturday night, while former All-American center Corey Howard received the same from the Atlanta Falcons.
Croom, from Cherokee, Ala., was a first-team All-Southland Conference selection last season in helping the Bears to their second consecutive second-round appearance in the NCAA Division I Playoffs. He caught 53 passes for 711 yards and 8 touchdowns last fall.
Croom is ranked fifth in UCA history in career receptions with 153 and sixth in receiving yards with 1,941. He was fifth in the SLC in yardage and sixth in receptions as a senior.
"It was really just a relief to finally get that call,' said Croom, who was contacted approximately 30 minutes after the final round of the draft closed. "Just to know I'm headed somewhere to further my football career.
"It really came out of nowhere. I was actually looking at another team that I thought might call, so I was surprised. But I was really relieved. You wait and wait and you don't know where you might be going. To finally get that call and know what comes next, was really nice.'
"I'm extremely proud of Dominique,' said UCA head coach Clint Conque. "This young man meant so much to our program. He's one of our all-time great receivers. He started nearly 40 games in his four-year career.
"I was very excited has well he did at his Pro Day, and I know he will do everything he can do to make an impact with the Browns. You could always count on him making big plays, and now he has that chance to do it in the NFL.
Croom ran a 4.50 and a 4.52 in the 40-yard dash at Pro Day, had a 38-inch vertical jump and measured 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds.
"Dominique has been an impact player in our program and we hope that he can continue to do so at the next level. He's a high character individual and an extremely hard worker.'
Howard, a three-year starter, was the SLC Offensive Lineman of the Year and a consensus All-American. Howard, from Wichita Falls, Texas, was named the FCS Offensive Lineman of the Year on the College Sporting News 2012 Fabulous Fifty All-America Team and was also named an All-American by the Walter Camp Foundation, The Sports Network and the Associated Press.
Howard said he received a text from his agent and a phone call from the Falcons simultaneously.
"I was ecstatic, I started shaking,' said Howard. "There's so much dreaming you do about this day. It's been a dream of mine every since I was little. so now I just have to go and take advantage of it. I know I don't even have my foot in the doorway yet. It's going to be a long process, but I just have to make sure I go out there and do the best I can, just like my coaches have taught me to do.'
"I'm very happy for Corey and I know the Falcons are getting a heck of a football player,' said Conque. "He definitely plays with an edge. Corey had an exceptional Pro Day on campus. He measured 6-1, 290, ran a 4.94, did 27 reps on the bench (press) and had a 30-inch vertical jump.
"He made the move to center this year and never missed a beat. He was named the best offensive lineman in FCS, which is an unbelievable honor. I can't even list all of his accomplishments and what he's meant to our program.'
Conque said both Croom and Howard have been great representatives for the UCA football program.
"It's just awesome to have both of these outstanding young men having a chance to continue their careers in the NFL,' he said. "They are both four-year players in our program. and have contributed significantly to our success over the past four years. They represent our program in a first-class manner.