Football: Titans pick Schwenke in fourth round, tell him he could be a rookie starter

One year after trying the center position for the first time, Cal’s Brian Schwenke will get the chance to compete for the starting job with the Tennessee Titans.

Schwenke was the 10th player chosen in the fourth round on Day 3 of the NFL draft Saturday.

“They believe I can be the starting center next year — that’s what they told me,” Schwenke said on a media teleconference. “The position isn’t going to be handed to me. I have to earn it. I look forward to the challenge.”

Meanwhile, cornerback Steve Williams went 145th to the San Diego Chargers in the fifth round and cornerback Marc Anthony was chosen in the seven round by Super Bowl champion Baltimore with the 247th overall pick.

Their selection marked the first time Cal has had two corners picked in the same draft.

Schwenke, a 6-foot-3, 314-pound native of San Diego was moved from guard to center before his senior season and almost instantly took to the position.

“I’d never snapped a football. Now I feel more comfortable at center than I ever did at guard,” said Schwenke, who earned first-team all-Pac-12 honors last fall.

“Tennessee just got the nastiest, toughest offensive linemen that I watched on tape all year long,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said.

 “I think he’s absolutely correct,” Schwenke said. “I take pride in the way I play. I enjoy playing nasty and I think it makes the game of football fun. I think that’s how it’s supposed to be played.”

Former Cal coach Jeff Tedford is convinced Schwenke is ready for the next level.

“He came in undersized, but he could always run and is very athletic,” Tedford said. “He’s very smart and highly competitive. And he’s played two positions, which always helps.”

Schwenke is the first Cal center drafted since the Cleveland Browns took Alex Mack in the first round in 2009, and the second center taken this year.

Williams was a mild surprise as a fifth-round pick by the Chargers, the same team that selected wideout Keenan Allen in the third round Friday.

His 4.34-second clocking in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine turned heads and Williams is projected as perhaps a nickel back for the Chargers. “I’m a playmaker, I can tackle on the edge, I can make plays on the deep ball, I can intercept the ball.”

He’s also excited to stay on the West Coast, close to his year-old daughter Lia, who lives with her mother in Oakland.

A 5-9, 181-pounder, Williams totaled 80 tackles, three interceptions, 10 pass deflections, and one forced fumble last fall, earning honorable mention all-Pac-12 honors.

Anthony, a 5-11, 196-pounder, collected just five interceptions in his career at Cal and does not boast great speed. But he is regarded as a strong tackler with solid all-around skills.

He said getting a draft day phone call from coach John Harbaugh was “unbeleivable . . . one of he best experiences anyone can feel.”

He missed by just seven spots earning the coveted Mr. Irrelevant title as the final pick of the draft, but would have been happy being picked anywhere.

“I was anxious because it was close to the end,” he said. “For some people, it might be embarrassing (to be picked last), but who wouldn’t want to be selected in the NFL draft?”

Anthony, at his family’s home in Chandler, Ariz., celebrating the draft and his graduation from Cal with a degree in African American studies, was especially excited that three childhood friends all were taken in the draft. Fellow Chandler HS alums Dion Jordan of Oregon and Markus Wheaton of Oregon State also were drafted.

“We always talked about it,” Anthony said. “It’s always been a dream of ours.”

Not just a dream anymore.



Jeff Faraudo