Backus, Hamilton, Rice Sign as NFL Free Agents; Kaleta Gets Mini - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Backus, Hamilton, Rice Sign as NFL Free Agents; Kaleta Gets Mini Camp Invite

 Courtesy: Coastal Carolina Media relations

CONWAY – Coastal Carolina's Quinn Backus (Houston Texans), Chad Hamilton (Chicago Bears) and Denzel Rice (Philadelphia Eagles) have signed NFL undrafted free agent contracts while Joe Kaleta has been invited to the Cleveland Browns NFL rookie mini-camp.

Backus, Hamilton and Rice will look to join former Chanticleers Quinton Teal, Mike Tolbert and Maurice Simpkins as undrafted free agents that went on to make an NFL roster.

Backus, who will make the move from college linebacker to safety with the Texans, is Coastal Carolina's most decorated football player as he was a three-time All-American as well as being the league's first three-time Big South Defensive Player of the year and first player in conference history to lead the Big South in tackles three times. Backus was named the 2014 FCA Athletic Director's Association Top Collegiate Linebacker and was a two-time Buck Buchanan FCS Defensive Player of the Year finalist, finishing fourth this past season. He finished his career with 414 tackles, 14th in NCAA FCS history, and 243 solo tackles, 10th in the NCAA FCS history.

Hamilton, also will make a position change from tackle to center, was a five-time, first team All-American by this past season while being tabbed second team Associated Press All-America. In addition to his play on the field, he was named CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-District, was a three-time Big South Presidential Honor Roll member and accepted into the National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society. He graduated from Coastal Carolina in the spring of 2014 and completed his Master of Education, serving as s sixth grade teacher Whittemore Park Middle School since January. Hamilton was a three-time All-Big South selection, earning first teams honors as a junior and senior at tackle and second team selection as a sophomore at guard.

Rice was a two-time All-Big South selection, earning second team honors in 2013 and 2014. His 24 career pass breakups ranks third on the CCU all-time list behind Teal and Norman. He ranked second in the league with 10 PBU this past season and helped the Chanticleer defense rank 26th nationally in pass efficiency. As a junior, Rice led the Big South with 12 PBU.

Kaleta graduated from Coastal Carolina this past December with a degree in history. Kaleta played both offensive and defensive line for the Chanticleers and was part of Coastal's three Big South titles and making three consecutive playoff appearances. Kaleta played in a12 career games, including CCU's playoff win at Montana. He began his career at Washington State.

COASTAL CAROLINA IN THE NFL

Tyler Thigpen (7th round draft pick in 2007): Played for Kansas City Chiefs (2007-09); Miami Dolphins (2009-10); Buffalo Bills (2011-12); Cleveland Browns (2014)

Quinton Teal (signed as a free agent in 2007): Carolina Panthers (2007-09); San Diego Chargers (2010-12)

Jerome Simpson (2nd round draft pick in 2008): Cincinnati Bengals (2008-11); Minnesota Vikings (2012-14); San Francisco 49ers (2015-present)

Mike Tolbert (signed as a free agent in 2008): San Diego Chargers (2008-11); Carolina Panthers (2012-present)

Maurice Simpkins (signed as a free agent in 2010): Green Bay Packers (2010); St. Louis Rams (2011)

Josh Norman (5th round draft pick in 2012): Carolina Panthers (2012-present)

Lorenzo Taliaferro (4th round draft pick in 2014): Baltimore Ravens (2014-present)

Matt Hazel (6th round draft pick in 2014): Miami Dolphins (2014-present)

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