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Casey fulfills dream with Texans


Tight end James Casey earned All-American honors last year at Rice University.

A physical specimen like James Casey out of Houston's Rice University was predicted to fly off the board on the second day of the 2009 NFL Draft. So when he was available in the fifth round (152nd overall), the Texans couldn't resist selecting the All-American tight end.

The 6-3, 246-pound Casey lit it up at the annual scouting combine, running a 4.66 in the 40, recording a 36-inch vertical jump and 28 reps in the bench press reps, the most among tight ends at the combine.

"Going into it, I was expecting third, fourth round and hoping maybe, possibly somebody would take a shot at me in the second round, but it didn't work out that way," Casey said. "That's just going to serve to motivate me even more. I like to see it as, of course, that the Texans got a steal with this pick."

{QUOTE}Casey played practically every position on the field for Rice, joining the team as a linebacker and moving to defensive end before going to the other side of the ball and playing receiver, halfback and tight end.

Last season, Casey primarily lined up as a "Y" receiver, setting a school record with 111 receptions for 1,329 yards and 12 touchdowns and earning All-American honors. His 1,682 all-purpose yards ranked seventh in the league and fifth in school records.

Texans tight ends coach Brian Pariani said Casey will play tight end for the Texans.

Casey's selection came just one round after the Texans drafted N.C. State tight end Anthony Hill with the 122nd overall pick. Hill was selected for his blocking abilities, but Pariani said both players will make Pro Bowl tight end Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen into better players.

"I think that the only way you can get better as a team, through my experience, is you have to continue to bring in players who will challenge the players that you have," Pariani said. "So I think that Anthony and James are going to make Owen and Joel Dreessen better players."

Casey, a 24-year-old sophomore last year, was selected in the seventh round of the 2003 Major League Baseball draft by the Chicago White Sox and played three years of minor league baseball before enrolling at Rice after a teammate forwarded his information to the coaching staff.

For Casey, it was a dream come true to stay in Houston and play for the Texans.

"I get to stay in Houston, being from Rice, so it's a great opportunity," Casey said. "And all those teams that passed on me, it's another thing that motivates me. It's motivated me my whole life when people doubt me. So I really am going to use that as motivation to show people that I'm a lot better than what people think and I'm going to use that with the Houston Texans to hopefully show everybody how good I am."

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