By Joel Flom
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 20, 1998

NFL takes three Wildcat seniors


Wildcat File Photo
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Chester Burnett - The former UA linebacker was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round of yesterday's NFL Draft.

Two Wildcat seniors will be moving to Nashville following this weekend's NFL Draft

But a third defensive player will have to pack a winter coat as he heads north.

Defensive tackle Joe Salave'a and linebacker Jimmy Sprotte will get a chance to remain teammates as they move onto the pro ranks, as both were drafted by the Tennessee Oilers yesterday during the second day of the draft.

Linebacker Chester Burnett was picked up by the Minnesota Vikings.

"He really likes Tennessee," said Sprotte's brother, junior inside linebacker Scooter, as Jimmy took a nap. "He was the only linebacker they took."

Salave'a was the 15th player taken in the fourth round, while Sprotte was the 16th choice of the seventh. Burnett followed close behind, as he was the 19th pick of the seventh round.

Scooter said Jimmy was excited to get the chance to play with Salave'a but they had not made any plans to travel to Tennessee yet.

"I am sure that they will hook up and do their thing there," Scooter said.

Tennessee currently has four former Wildcats on its roster. Sprotte and Salave'a will join center Hicham El-Mashtoub, defensive backs Darryll Lewis and Armon Williams and tight end Roderick Lewis.

Minnesota does not have any Arizona alumni on its roster.

The Oilers were out to rebuild their defense, as five of their eight picks were from the defensive side of the ball. They will get the help they need on the line from Salave'a, while Sprotte will probably be used for special team purposes.

After completing what he thought would be his last year at Arizona, Salave'a played in the Shrine East-West Game as a senior. He passed up the draft, however, and returned to Arizona for his fifth year - fourth collegiate season - after the NCAA gave partial academic qualifiers who were ineligible as freshmen a fourth season if they graduated in four years.

Salave'a, the 21st defensive lineman taken in the draft, made the most of his extra year as a Wildcat. He was the team leader in sacks and tackles for a loss.

Sprotte, an outside or 'whip' linebacker, recorded 40 tackles last season, including three sacks and 12 for losses. Sprotte finished second to Burnett in tackles during his junior year.

Burnett has been a defensive leader for the Wildcats for the past two seasons, having led Arizona in tackles during his junior and senior seasons. The inside linebacker recorded 124 tackles in 1996, and followed with 93 during the 1997 season.

At 5-foot-11-inches and 228 pounds, Burnett is considered too small at his position in the NFL, and will likely see time with special teams.

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