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April 27, 2008

Avril heads back to Detroit

Cliff Avril's college football career ended in Detroit, in Purdue's Motor City Bowl win at Ford Field.

Now, his professional career will begin in the same locale.

The Boilermaker defensive end was drafted by the Detroit Lions Sunday, in the third round of the NFL draft, with the 92nd overall pick.

"It's crazy," Avril said. "I was thinking about that once Detroit picked me. It was like 'Wow, I played my last college game there, now I hope to make a career there.' It was good."

Avril, who expects to stay at defensive end with the Lions, joins tight end Dustin Keller as those Boilermakers drafted. Keller went to the New York Jets in Saturday's first round, with the 30th overall pick.

"They called me to tell me they were trading up to get me," Avril said of the Lions, "and ask me I was happy to be a Lion. That was a rhetorical question. It was very exciting."

The 6-foot-3, 250-plus-pound Avril came to Purdue as an outside linebacker and started for a season-and-a-half at the position before moving in-season to defensive end midway through his junior year.

For his career, the Floridian finished with 194 tackles, 35.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 12 breakups and two interceptions, the last of which he returned for a touchdown at Minnesota this past season.

NFL teams were interested in Avril as both a 3-4 outside linebacker - where former Boilermaker ends Rosevelt Colvin, Shaun Phillips and Anthony Spencer, among others, have found so much success - and a defensive end. It looks as though he'll line up at D-end.

"(The Lions) just want me as a pass-rusher (at defensive end), which is great," he said. "I think I'll fit in just fine, trying to pass rush and get to the quarterback for them."

A team co-captain this season, Avril joins the growing list of Boilermaker defensive ends taken in the draft. Those who've come before: Colvin, Chike Okeafor, Akin Ayodele, Phillips, Rob Ninkovich, Ray Edwards and Spencer.

All of them remain in the league, though Colvin is between teams, probably not for long.

Of those ends drafted, Colvin, Ayodele, Phillips and Spencer moved to outside linebacker in the pros.

Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2008. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.

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