HOUSTON -The Houston Texans signed nine rookie free agents not selected in the 2004 NFL Draft. They are also holding a tryout for five players during rookie mini-camp (May 7-8).
The nine rookie free agents are: OT Ryan Bachman (Kearney State), DE Brandon Casavan (Wyoming), FB Tim Gale (Northeastern), OT Brad Lekkerkerker (UC-Davis), C Andrew Martin (Northern Colorado), NT Ifo Pili (BYU), DE D.J. Renteria (New Mexico), G Chavis Smith (Tennessee) and WR Kendrick Starling (San Jose State).
As a three-year starter at left tackle for Kearney State, Bachman was a two-time All-RMAC (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) and two-time all-region pick who earned All-American honors in 2003. Starting his career at defensive tackle, Bachman switched over to the offensive side of the ball after his freshman year. He proceeded to start 31 consecutive games for the Lopers.
Casavan moved back to his natural position of defensive end his senior year at Wisconsin, after playing defensive tackle his junior season. He finished his senior season with 58 tackles (34 solo) and 3.5 sacks.
Gale finished his senior season at Northeastern with 184 rushes for 1,095 yards and 11 touchdowns. He received first team All-Atlantic 10 honors and offensive team MVP. Gale is in the career record books at Northeastern; he's second all-time in rushing yards (2,860), third in attempts (557), first in rushing touchdowns (36) and second in total touchdowns (38).
Lekkerkerker began his collegiate career at Chaffey Community College after not participating in sports in high school. Lekkerkerker played in 22 games and started 12 for Cal Davis, including two playoff games in 2002. He was named to the 2003 I-AA Independent All-Star First Team and played in the East-West Shine Game.
Martin was a four-year letterwinner and the starting left tackle for the past three seasons for the Bears. He was a second-team All-Colorado selection this past season and also tabbed a second-team I-AA Independent selection. The Texans plan on converting him to center.
Pili earned All-Mountain West Conference honorable mention honors at BYU in 2003. He played in 45 games throughout his career and totaled 123 tackles (51 solo), 16 tackles for losses and six sacks.
In 48 games, Renteria recorded 121 tackles (63 solos) with 13 sacks and 34.5 tackles for losses. He also caused five fumbles and recovered six others. Renteria was a consensus All-Mountain West Conference first-team selection in 2003 and a second-team selection in 2002.
Smith came to Tennessee as a defensive tackle, but moved to the offensive line as a sophomore. He made 23 knockdowns with three touchdown-resulting blocks to help the offense amass an average of 371.8 yards per game in 2003 (4,874 total yards).
In 23 games at San Jose State, Starling hauled in 77 passes for 899 yards (11.7 avg) and five touchdowns, adding 856 yards on 36 kickoff returns (23.8 avg.). In 46 games as a collegian (at San Jose State and Navarro Junior College), he caught 188 passes for 3,204 yards and 31 touchdowns.
In addition, the Texans will hold tryouts for five players this weekend: WR Toby Christensen (BYU), WR Chris Coleman (Alabama State), G Brandon Evans (Houston), P Nate McKinney (Appalachian State) and DE Bryce Wyatt (LSU).