SMU offensive guard Josh LeRibeus was selected by the Washington Redskins with the eighth pick of the third round (71st overall) of the NFL Draft Friday evening.
This is the highest a Mustang has been drafted since the Death Penalty sanctions were enforced, as wide receiver Ron Morris and defensive tackle Jerry Ball were selected 54th by the Bears and 63rd by the Lions, respectively, in the 1987 draft.
“It feels amazing,” LeRibeus said. “As soon as I got that call, my heart was pounding a million miles a minute. Even then I didn’t know who it was. A guy said, ‘Hey hold on.’ I was like OK. It was the Bills pick, so I was like, I’ve never even talked to the Bills. Then he said, ‘I’m gonna put you on with coach [Mike] Shanahan’ and I was like, ‘Oh my god, yes! We spoke briefly and he said, ‘We’re gonna take you,’ and oh my god, I was ecstatic.”
LeRibeus said he hadn’t talked to the Redskins since the Combine and was told by his agent to “watch out for Kansas City.”
But even though LeRibeus didn’t know how interested Washington had been, June Jones did.
“I talked to Shanahan,” Jones said. “He called specifically about Josh the day before the draft and we talked in great length about it.”
Jones said the two discussed a couple other Mustangs, too, and wouldn’t be surprised if the Redskins plucked a few more.
LeRibeus, who played in 36 games with 28 starts in his college career, will join former teammate Aldrick Robinson in Washington.
“We’ve been texting back and forth and he congratulated me and said he’s looking forward to turning around another program,” LeRibeus said.
At SMU Pro Day earlier this month, longtime NFL scout Gil Brandt had some positive things to say about LeRibeus.
“I was talking to Gil Brandt and he thinks Josh will be the guard that ends up playing in the league the fastest and longest of this draft, which says a lot,” stated Jones at the time.
When LeRibeus was on the phone with Shanahan, he said his family was going nuts in the background.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of talking, more screaming,” LeRibeus said, laughing. “I was about to throw a water bottle at them. We were all ecstatic.”
LeRibeus grew up a Texans fan because he’s originally from Houston and his dad roots for them (his mom, on the other hand, is a Cowboys fan). Being drafted bodes well for the LeRibeus family, as the Redskins play the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving this year.
“It’s so exciting,” LeRibeus said of the serendipitous scheduling. “It’s perfect.”
Asked if he knows his new quarterback, Robert Griffin III, LeRibeus said he didn’t, but the two do have something to bond over.
“The only thing we really have in common is that we both beat up on TCU last year, which was awesome,” he said.
LeRibeus said the Redskins will likely play him at guard, but he’s not sure which side. He has no preference and can play both.
“I just want to fill a role and I’m looking to compete for a job,” he said.
He’ll head to Washington next weekend for rookie minicamp and probably won’t move up there permanently until later this summer. LeRibeus has never been to D.C. before and can’t wait to get there.
LeRibeus has undergone quite the transformation. He once upon a time weighed 380 lbs. and lost 70 of those before his senior season began last fall. He’s been able to stay focused and keep the weight off, which has been impressive to scouts.
LeRibeus, who stands at 6-foot-3, 318 lbs., is the fourth Mustang to be drafted in the last four years, joining current New Orleans Saint punter Thomas Morstead (2009), Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (2010) and Robinson (2011).
“It’s all pretty cool,” he said. “It’s awesome. There’s been a lot of hard work and this is a culmination of all of that.”
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