Corey Hilliard is a 6-foot-6, 318-pound offensive lineman out of Oklahoma State. He was selected by New England in the sixth round (209th overall) in the 2007 NFL Draft. Projected as a tackle, Hilliard may move to another position as he fights for a spot on the team's roster.
Experienced at both right and left tackles in college, Hilliard earned All-Big 12 first-team honors in 2006 his senior season. It was an improvement from the second-team All-Big 12 honors he earned the year before.
|OL Corey Hilliard is watched carefully by offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia at Patriots rookie minicamp May 12, 2007. (Photo Kevin Saleeba/ PatriotsInsider.com)|
After struggling in rookie minicamp in May, Hilliard showed some mental toughness addressing questions in the locker room afterwards.
"I'm just happy to be here," Hilliard said. "I'm just going to try to work hard every day to make the team."
After struggling with conditioning in camp, Hilliard noted he needed to improve. "I'm just going to try to get in shape as quick as possible," he said. "I'm just glad I'm here (in Foxboro)."
Hilliard is one of 6 tackles on the roster. He will compete with fellow rookie tackle Clint Oldenburg for a roster spot. The team also has four returning veterans; Matt Light, Nick Kaczur, Ryan O'Callaghan and Wesley Britt.
Oscar Lua, a 6-foot-1, 245-pound linebacker out of USC, signed with the Patriots as well this week. The former Trojan was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round (211th overall) in the 2007 NFL Draft with a pick acquired from the Oakland Raiders.
A PrepStar All-American and SuperPrep All-Farwest Defensive MVP in high school, big things were expected out of the California native. He took over duties on the Trojans defense after Lofa Tatupa was Drafted, but struggled to keep the starting role in 2006.
Considered a late round sleeper, Lua is also very happy to become a Patriot. At rookie minicamp, he told Patriots Insider he was in awe as he nodded and pointed in the direction of Junior Seau's locker. Seau was Lua's childhood idol.
|LB Oscar Lua receives advice from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the team's June minicamp (AP Photo)|
"I love Junior Seau," Lua said with a broad smile. "I've always been a big fan of his. He's a great guy to look up to."
Although Lua felt that the Patriots ran a similar scheme to the one at USC, he admitted he had a lot to learn as a rookie during the team's minicamp.
"I'm starting from scratch here," he said after practice. "I've got a great opportunity with the team, and I have a lot to learn. I plan on making the most of this opportunity."
Lua has a number of linebackers ahead of him on the depth chart, and securing a roster spot will not be easy for the rookie. The Patriots have 12 linebackers on the roster, three of which (including Lua) are rookies. The team is expected to keep roughly 8 linebackers for the season.