Expediting the contractual process with the official opening of training camp, the Green Bay Packers Friday signed three more 2003 draft selections – all but first-round pick Nick Barnett, GM/Head Coach announced as first-year players moved into the team's St. Norbert College training base.
Meanwhile, Andrew Brandt, the club's vice president of player finance, continued to work overtime with Barnett's agent in an attempt to reach an agreement that would get the former Oregon State standout into camp.
Defensive tackle/end Kenny Peterson of Ohio State, the team's third-round selection, and linebackers Hunter Hillenmeyer of Vanderbilt, a fifth-round pick, and Steve Josue of Carson-Newman, a seventh-round choice, formally entered the fold today, leaving Barnett as the only unsigned member of Green Bay's 2003 draft as Sherman prepared to put the rookies through their first training camp practice Saturday.
Numerous draftniks had the 6-3, 300-pound Peterson tabbed to become the Packers' first-round selection in the draft. They may have missed on the round but they had the right team and a solid assessment of Green Bay's interest. The Packers moved up 15 spots in the third round – by way of a trade with the Buffalo Bills – to make sure the former Buckeye, the 79th pick overall, would be coming to Lambeau Field.
A key component in one of the nation's most miserly defenses in 2002, Peterson helped the Buckeyes earn a national championship with a victory over the Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl. A three-year letterman at Ohio State, where he started his senior season at defensive end after playing his first three campaigns as a backup at defensive end, he can line up at any position in the line and is expected to figure prominently in the Packers' regular rotation along the defensive front.
Playing in 45 games, at Columbus, his home town, with 15 starts, Peterson closed out his collegiate career with 84 tackles (51 solo), 12 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, 1 interception, 7 passes defensed and 3 forced fumbles.
One of the strongest players in the storied history of the Buckeyes' football program, Peterson set numerous weight room records at Ohio State, accomplishments which were taken into significant account by Packers' talent evaluators going into the draft.
He also is used to winning. Before helping the Buckeyes win the national championship last year, Peterson was a member of the 1997 prep national champion, Canton (Ohio) McKinley High School, leaving him with only a Super Bowl to win.
Hillenmeyer, 6-4 and 238 pounds, led the nation in both total tackles per game (14.0), and unassisted tackles per game (9.67) for Vanderbilt's Commodores last season. A highly durable performer, he played in all of the school's 45 games over his collegiate career, including 11 as a true freshman, and started the last 23.
The 22-year-old Nashville native was voted by coaches to the prestigious All-Southeastern Conference first-team following the 2002 season after leading the SEC with 168 total tackles and 116 solo stops.
Also an outstanding student, Hillenmeyer graduated from Vanderbilt in May with a double major (economics, plus human and organizational development) and a 3.8 GPA, summa cum laude. Additionally, he also has scored an impressive 39 on the Wonderlic test and 1,460 out of 1,600 on high-school SAT.
Josue, 6-2 and 222 pounds and the fourth of four Packers picks in the seventh round of the draft, was a four-year letter winner at Carson-Newman, where he started for three-and-a-half seasons. In the process, he was accorded All-South Atlantic Conference honors all four seasons (1999-2002) and voted 'Defensive MVP' of the 2003 Cactus Bowl All-Stars.
Playing in 44 career games, with 43 starts, Josue amassed 166 tackles (99 solo), 29 sacks and 55½ tackles for loss. He also weighed in with 2 interceptions – including one touchdown return – plus 3 fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
Team captain for Carson-Newman's Eagles as a senior, Josue started all 11 regular season games as well as two playoff contests while helping lead his team to a conference championship and the quarterfinals of the NCAA playoffs, losing 31-28 to Valdosta State, which became the Division II runner-up.