Former Owls begin journey in NFL

Matakevich, Ioannidis, Young selected in NFL Draft, several others to be signed

Tyler Matakevich, (center) and Matt Ioannidis, (right), were both selected in the 2016 NFL Draft. Matakevich will head to the Pittsburgh Steelers after being the 246th player off the board, while Ioannidis will be a Washington Redskin after their fifth-round selection. | HOJUN YU TTN

With three selections in the 2016 NFL Draft, the football program tied a record set five previous times for most draftees at the annual event.

Former Owls Tavon Young, Matt Ioannidis and Tyler Matakevich were selected in the fourth, fifth and seventh round on Saturday.

Young joins a Baltimore Ravens secondary that set a franchise low with six interceptions last season.

Young, who started 12 games as a senior, totaled 29 solo tackles and seven passes defended. He also recorded his first sack since his freshman year.

As a junior, Young led the team with a career-high four interceptions and nine passes defended, which ranked third in the American Athletic Conference. His 153 interception return yards led the conference.

“There is no question Tavon was a major, major reason we had the success we did in 2015 and it’s no surprise to us that he was drafted into the NFL,” coach Matt Rhule said in a university-issued statement.”

Young, who also forced one fumble in his career, recorded 101 career solo tackles and eight tackles for loss as an Owl. He also appeared in 43 games, totaling seven career interceptions and 21 passes defended.

Ioannidis, a defensive lineman, was a fifth-round pick and the No. 152 overall selection by the Washington Redskins.

As a senior, Ioannidis earned first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors after totaling 42 tackles, 111/2 tackles for loss and 31/2 sacks in 13 games.

In his junior year as a team captain, the defensive lineman notched a team-high 11 tackles for loss and was one of 12 players to start all 12 games. He also recorded 31/2 sacks and 44 total tackles.

Matakevich—selected in the seventh round, No. 246 overall—will stay in Pennsylvania, as he was chosen by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday.

The linebacker was named the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and named an Associated Press first-team all-American after totaling 126 tackles and a career-high 41/2 sacks in 2015.

He also won the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the top defensive player in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Matakevich’s senior season was the fourth consecutive time he totaled 100 or more tackles, and he was the only Football Bowl Subdivision player to lead his team in tackles in every game this season.

“Tyler is a special player,” Rhule said in a university-issued statement. “He will play in the NFL for many years and will make the Steelers very happy. He gets credit for being a play-maker and being very instinctual but what people don’t see is that he spends a lot of time studying film. He’s a football junkie and he will fit right in in Pittsburgh.”

Matakevich was also the 66th Owl to be drafted into the NFL.

Other former Owls to reportedly earn an NFL shot were wide receiver Robby Anderson, defensive back Alex Wells and offensive linemen Kyle Friend, who will join the New York Jets organization.

Former Offensive lineman Shahbaz Ahmed and defensive lineman Hershey Walron will join the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks, respectively.

Former wide receiver Brandon Shippen tweeted on Saturday he will join the Miami Dolphins.

Brandon has some tremendous attributes that translate well into the NFL,” said Rhule. “He’s fast, he’s tough. He has ball skills on both sides of the line of scrimmage.”

Michael Guise can be reached at

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