Patriots sign 12 rookie free agents, two draft picks

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Patriots sign 12 rookie free agents, two draft picks

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
With the Patriots set to hold their first on-field practice of the 2011 season Thursday morning, the team announced the signing of two draft picks - Marshall tight end Lee Smith and Central Arkansas linebacker Markell Carter - as well as a dozen rookie free agents. The rookie free agents are: OL Mike Berry (Auburn), LBLS Ryan Coulson (Nevada), OL Kyle Hix (Texas), K Chris Koepplin (Massachusetts), DE Aaron Lavarias (Idaho), LB Anthony Leonard (West Virginia), DE Clay Nurse (Illinois), WR Jeremy Ross (California), DE Alex Silvestro (Rutgers), LB Jeff Tarpinian (Iowa), OL Corey Woods (Akron) and TE Will Yeatman (Maryland).The team also activated wideout Tyree Barnes and running back Eric Kettani from the reservemilitary list. Here's the skinny on each of the undrafted guys that the team sent out.Berry, 6-3, 316 pounds, started in 35 games while appearing in 45 with Auburn. He started all 14 games in 2010 at right guard and was part of an offensive line that paved the way for 254 yards rushing and 519 yards of total offense in the national championship win over Oregon.

Here's a youtube video of Berry's highlights at Auburn
Coulson, 6-5, 255 pounds, converted from linebacker to defensive end as a sophomore. He started seven games as junior and all 13 games as a senior in 2010, finishing with 53 total tackles and 3.5 sacks as a senior. He also handled long snapping duties. Hix, 6-7, 325 pounds, was a four-year for Texas, who played in 51 games with 39 starts. He started 28 games at right tackle before moving to left tackle as a senior in 2010.Koepplin, 6-3, 210 pounds, played two seasons at UMass in 2006 and 2007 after transferring from Nassau Community College. At UMass, he became the career record holder in PAT percentage (98.0) and was second in field goal percentage (71.0). Koepplin played for the Manchester Wolves of the Arena Football 2 League in 2008 and 2009.Lavarias, 6-2, 255 pounds, was named second team All-WAC as a senior in 2010 after finishing with 52 total tackles and 10.0 sacks. He was Idahos Defensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2009.Leonard, 6-1, 246, started all 13 games last season for West Virginia and finished third on the team with 70 tackles, including 6.5 for a loss. Nurse, 6-3, 260 pounds, played and started in all 13 games as a senior in 2010, finishing with 23 total tackles. As a junior in 2009, he recorded four sacks in a win over Minnesota. Ross, 5-11, 213 pounds, finished his collegiate career second on Cals all-time punt return average list with an average of 15.2 yards per punt (31 returns, 471 yards and one touchdown). He totaled 2,287 all-purpose yards (201 rushing, 764 receiving, 471 punt return, 851 kick return), with an average of 53.2 yards per contest.Silvestro, 6-3, 267 pounds, began his career at Rutgers as a linebacker before moving to defensive end and defensive tackle. As a senior in 2010, he had 56 total tackles, 14.5 for a loss, and 4.5 sacks. Tarpinian, 6-3, 238 pounds, began his college career at Iowa as a defensive back before moving to linebacker during the spring of 2007. He was a top special teams player as well as a starter at linebacker during his career and recorded 97 total tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.Woods, 6-5, 300 pounds, was a four-year starter at Akron, who played at both left and right tackle during his college career. He played his first two seasons at right tackle before moving to the left side as a junior in 2009. Yeatman, 6-5, 268 pounds, was a two-sport standout at both Notre Dame and Maryland in football and lacrosse. After three seasons at Notre Dame (2006-08), he transferred to Maryland and sat out the 2009 season. As a senior in 2010, he played in all 11 games with three starts and finished with 13 receptions for 134 yards and one touchdown
The two players reinstated from the military reserve:

Barnes, WR, 6-0, 196 pounds, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on May 4, 2009 from Navy and was placed on the reserve military list on July 23, 2009.

Kettani, RB, 5-11, 235 pounds, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on May 4, 2009 out of Navy and was placed on the reserve military list on July 23, 2009.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL


Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”