Army fans came into the 2020 NFL Draft laser-focused on hearing one name reach the next level. They wound up getting that and more, as there will be three Black Knights heading to NFL training camps for the first time since 1996.
Back then, it was Ronnie McAda who was drafted by the Packers, while Ron Leshinski and CW Estes signed with the Saints and Giants, respectively.
This year Elijah Riley, Conner Slomka, and Cole Christiansen will be joining the Eagles, Jaguars, and Chargers, respectively.
“We are extremely proud of Cole, Elijah, and Connor,” said Army Athletic Director, Mike Buddie. “They have all earned this opportunity through their hard work and determination while representing the Corps of Cadets on the gridiron. After spending 47 months training to serve our country, I am thrilled for them to have this opportunity to continue their playing career and am convinced this will only make them better officers when that time comes.”
Riley was one of the team captains for Army in 2019. He had 201 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, seven interceptions, and three forced fumbles in his Army career.
He was a Jim Thrope Award Finalist. An award that is given to the nation’s best defensive back. He also played in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Florida this past January.
Slomka was nicknamed the Wexford Sledgehammer for a reason. The bruising fullback compiled 1,208 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns, averaging 4.4 yards per carry in his career.
Christiansen was a two-time team captain. He amassed 275 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles in his time on the banks of the Hudson.
He was a Lott IMPACT Trophy Semifinalist and part of the 2019 All-Independent First Team. Like Riley, he also played in an All-Star like game as well. In the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, he had five tackles.
These three will now look to make their teams as they begin their new journeys in the NFL.