ATHENS, Ohio -- Following the conclusion of the 2019 National Football League Draft on Saturday (April 27), four former Ohio football standouts earned the opportunity to keep their dreams of playing professional football alive.
Wide receiver Papi White (Seminole, Okla.) signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent while offensive lineman Joe Lowery (Tallmadge, Ohio) did the same with the Chicago Bears. Safety Kylan Nelson (Lexington, Ky.) received an invitation to rookie minicamp from the Arizona Cardinals while linebacker Evan Croutch (Youngstown, Ohio) received an invite from the Jaguars.
The four former Bobcats all completed their redshirt senior seasons in Athens in 2018, helping Ohio compile 40 wins over the past five seasons, including back-to-back bowl victories in the 2017 Bahamas Bowl and the 2018 DXL Frisco Bowl. White and Lowery were 2018 All-Mid-American Conference selections while Croutch was an All-MAC Second Team pick.
White earned All-MAC First Team honors for the first time in his career after being named to the Second Team in 2016. He became the first Ohio wide receiver to be named to the All-MAC First Team since Eddie Washington in 1983. White finished the regular season ranked third in the MAC with a career-high 987 receiving yards (third-most in program history) and a career-high nine receiving touchdowns (tied for second-most in program history). White became Ohio's all-time leader in career receiving yards in 2018 with 2,620, breaking the mark of 2,511 set by LaVon Brazill (2007-11). His 19 career receiving touchdowns are tied for the second-most in school history.
Lowery was named to the 2018 All-MAC First Team after being named to the 2017 All-MAC Second Team. He was also named the 2018 MAC Player of the Year and garnered All-American Second Team Offense selection by Pro Football Focus. According to Pro Football Focus, Lowery was third-highest graded offensive tackle across the entire nation. He allowed just nine total QB pressures on 334 snaps in pass protection. He also led the nation's tackles with his 85.3 run-blocking grade. Lowery helped pave the way for a prolific Ohio offense that ranked 12th in the nation with a conference-high and program-record 521 points scored and 40.1 points per game. The Bobcats posted a conference-high 6,068 yards of total offense (second-most in program history) to rank 15th in the nation, with Ohio's 466.8 total yards per game leading the MAC and setting a program record. The Ohio rushing attack ranked fifth in the nation with a conference-high 6.03 yards per rush (highest average in program history), ninth in the nation with a conference-high 258.3 rushing yards per game (sixth-highest average in program history) and 11th in the nation with a conference-high 3,358 rushing yards (third-most in program history). The Bobcats tallied the seventh-most rushing touchdowns in the country with a conference-high 40 rushing touchdowns (tied for the second-most in program history). Ohio recorded over 200 rushing yards nine times in 2018, over 300 five times and over 400 twice -- including a season-high 437 (fourth-most in program history) in a 52-17 rout of eventual MAC East Division champion Buffalo on Nov. 14 at Peden Stadium in Athens. Lowery helped Ohio tie for second in the conference in sacks against with just 20 and lead the conference in first downs (318; 24.5 per game), third-down conversions (48.7 percent conversion rate) and rank second in time of possession (33:36).
Croutch earned All-MAC honors for the first time in his career and gave Ohio an all-conference selection at linebacker for the fifth year in a row. He led the team with a career-high 90 total tackles (59 solo, 31 assisted) for a team-high 6.9 tackles per game. His career-high 5.5 sacks led the squad, and he tied for the team lead with a career-high two interceptions. He also led the team with 14 tackles for loss. Croutch tallied double-digit tackles on four occasions in 2018 and helped Ohio rank as the second-best rushing defense in the league, limiting the opposition to just 137.1 rushing yards per game. He was named 2018 DXL Frisco Bowl Defensive Player of the Game after recording a game-high 11 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in the 27-0 win over San Diego State, helping the Bobcats secure the MAC's first-ever shutout in a bowl win. Croutch finished his Ohio career with 200 total tackles (120 solo, 80 assisted), 8.5 sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble.
Nelson finished his Ohio career with 166 total tackles (97 solo, 75 assisted), seven tackles for loss, 23 pass breakups, five interceptions and three fumble recoveries. He also ran back one kickoff for a touchdown and one punt for a touchdown in his career. Nelson ranked third on the squad with 60 total tackles (35 solo, 25 assisted) in his 2018 senior season. His two interceptions tied for the team lead. Nelson was named MAC East Division Special Teams Player of the Week on Nov. 26 after running a punt back 37 yards for a touchdown in a 49-28 win over Akron in the 2018 regular season finale on Nov. 23 at Peden Stadium.