McKinney: Quick Hitter

Aug. 27, 2013 @ 08:41 PM

T.W. Andrews students, fans and alumni have three special reasons to feel proud when the subject turns to the NFL.

Three former Red Raiders look to play crucial defensive roles as pros this season.

Adrian Wilson, a hard-hitting safety, enters his 13th season in the league. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder starred for 12 seasons at safety for the Arizona Cardinals before joining the New England Patriots this offseason.

Wilson is listed at starting strong safety. He figures to pad his career stats of 894 tackles, 27 interceptions, 25.5 sacks and 101 passes defensed.

This five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro who starred at Andrews and N.C. State may wind up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day. A big season in New England would bolster that case.

San Diego’s Marcus Gilchrist, another former Red Raider, enters the season as a first-string strong safety.

Gilchrist, taken in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Clemson, started four games for the Chargers last season. The 5-10, 198-pounder has 93 career tackles, two interceptions and six passes defensed.

How well Gilchrist mans his safety spot will go a long way in determining how successful San Diego’s defense will be.

A third ex-Red Raider star, William Hayes, enters his sixth season as an NFL defensive end.

Hayes, a 6-3, 272-pounder out of Winston-Salem State, begins his second campaign with the St. Louis Rams after four years with the Tennessee Titans.

He boasts 147 career tackles, 15 sacks and three passes defensed. Hayes is not listed as a starter, but figures to log starter-like snaps as the Rams like to rotate numerous defensive linemen.

— Mark McKinney