Nate Bussey is headed to New Orleans along with fellow Illini LB Martez Wilson.
April 30, 2011
Bussey Photos | Leshoure, Wilson Drafted | Liuget Picked in First Round | 2011 NFL Draft PicksNew York - Former Illinois linebacker Nate Bussey had to wait until late in the seventh round when finally got the call that the New Orleans Saints were selecting him with 243rd pick on Saturday during the third and final day of the 2011 NFL Draft.
"The wait was overwhelming - watching 242 picks go by," Bussey said after being drafted. "When the Saints were on the clock, I had a feeling that would be it. Then my phone started ringing and it was the Saints saying they were picking me. It was the best feeling of my life. I think my main value there is on special teams. I'll go there and do whatever the coaches need me to do."
Bussey was the fourth Illini player taken in the 2011 NFL Draft, which is the most Illinois players picked in a single draft since five were selected in 2003. On Thursday, defensive tackle Corey Liuget was selected in the first round (18th overall) by San Diego. Then on Friday, running back Mikel Leshoure was selected by Detroit in the second round (57th overall) and linebacker Martez Wilson was picked by New Orleans in the third round (72nd overall).
Bussey and Wilson will join former Fighting Illini Pierre Thomas and Danny Clark on the Saints roster. In addition, Bussey will join former Illinois and Dunbar High School (Washington D.C.) teammates Arrelious Benn and Vontae Davis in the NFL.
"It's going to be amazing playing with Martez (Wilson) again," Bussey said. "It'll be like having a brother down there with me. And it will also be amazing to join Rejus (Benn) and Vontae (Davis) in the NFL. Those guys always said we'd all go to the NFL and now my dream has come true. It just proves that I'm worthy of playing at the next level."
Bussey was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection after having a career year in 2010, finishing second on the team with 83 tackles and third with 8.5 tackles for loss. He had a 16-yard interception return for a touchdown at Penn State on Oct. 9, and recovered Big Ten-best three fumbles, broke up two passes and blocked a kick during his senior season. Bussey spent his first two seasons at Illinois as a safety, seeing most of his playing time on special teams before moving to outside linebacker and starting 19 of 25 games during his final two seasons, including all 13 as a senior.
Fighting Illini Taken in the 2011 NFL Draft
Player Pos. Round Pick Team Corey Liuget DT 1 18 San Diego Chargers Mikel Leshoure RB 2 57 Detroit Lions Martez Wilson LB 3 72 New Orleans Saints Nate Bussey LB 7 243 New Orleans Saints