HICKORY, N.C. – Former Lenoir-Rhyne safety/return specialist Kyle Dugger was selected in the second round of the National Football League Draft with the 37th overall pick by the New England Patriots, Friday. Dugger becomes the highest draft pick in South Atlantic Conference history, topping Ricardo Colclough from Tusculum who was drafted 38th overall in 2004 by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Prior to tonight, no player from Lenoir-Rhyne had been picked higher than No. 106 and that happened in 1958 when Harold Bullard was taken by the Baltimore Colts.
The Decatur, Ga. native is the first Division II safety drafted in the second round since 2007.
Dugger was the only Division II player invited to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl and the only DII athlete to work out at the NFL Combine.
The 2019 Cliff Harris Award Winner – given to the best defensive player in Division II – played 42 career games for the Bears and had 10 interceptions and 36 passes defended. Dugger finished with 237 tackles, six forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.
In Special Teams, Dugger went down as the best return man in program history. His 929 punt return yards are the most of any LR player and his six return touchdowns is also a record. He won a pair of National Special Teams Player of the Week honors during his career.
The last player drafted out of Lenoir-Rhyne was DE John Milem who went in the fifth round of the 2000 draft to the San Francisco 49ers.
Lenoir-Rhyne Draft History
2020: Kyle Dugger, Round 2, New England
2000: John Milem, Round 5, San Francisco
1995: Shannon Myers, Round 7, Miami
1993: Craig Keith, Round 7, Pittsburgh
1977: Chip Sheffield, Round 12, Tampa Bay
1968: Wayne Bell, Round 8, Chicago
1967: Mike Campbell, Round 6, St. Louis
1961: Dick Lage, Round 12, Cleveland
1958: Harold Bullard, Round 9, Baltimore