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Colts take Kansas St CB Julius Brents at No. 44 in NFL draft

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts traded down twice Friday night before taking Kansas State cornerback Julius “JuJu” Brents in the second round of the NFL draft at No. 44 overall.

Brents had settled in to watch the draft at a sports bar in Westfield, a five-minute drive from the site of Colts training camp and a half hour away from his high school, when his cellphone buzzed with a 317 area code. Word from the Colts set off a wild celebration among Brents’ family and friends.

“I was praying nobody was prank calling me,” Brents said. “It’s crazy. You can’t write no better story than this. Being a Colts fan my whole life, growing up watching Peyton Manning, Bob Sanders, being able to put on that same horseshoe, it’s nothing but a blessing.”

The 6-foot-3, 198-pound Indianapolis native earned first-team All-Big 12 honors in 2022 on the strength of four interceptions and 45 tackles, including 3.5 for loss. Brents is expected to replenish the position after general manager Chris Ballard traded top corner Stephon Gilmore to Dallas in March.

Brents began his college career at Iowa before transferring in 2021 to Kansas State. He was a three-time all-conference performer at Warren Central High School in Indy and measured a 82 ⅝-inch wingspan.

“Being a Colts fan my whole life,” Brents said during a Zoom call with Indianapolis media members after getting selected. “Growing up watching Peyton Manning. My favorite player growing up was Bob Sanders. So, now just to be able to put on that same horseshoe, it’s nothing short of a blessing.”

“I know they wanted a great corner, and they got one in me,” Brents said. “I am who I say I am. I just want to win and bring us back that Super Bowl.”

Brents is expected to replenish the position after general manager Chris Ballard traded top corner Stephon Gilmore to Dallas in March.

“I’m just ready to get to work,” Brents said.

The selection required a wait.

Ballard twice traded down, first picking up a fifth-round selection (No. 141 overall) from Las Vegas in exchange for dropping from No. 35 overall to No. 38. Ballard then acquired an extra fourth-rounder, No. 110 overall, from Atlanta for moving from No. 38 to No. 44.

On the opening day of the draft, the Colts grabbed Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson with the fourth overall pick. The move was expected after so many changes at QB for the Colts, who finished 4-12-1 mark last season with three different starters.

The 20-year-old Richardson was all smiles during his introductory news conference earlier Friday.

“It’s been everything I could dream of and a little bit more,” Richardson said. “I’m excited to finally know where home is now. I’m a Colt. I’ve been emotions everywhere. I’ve been crying, smiling, dancing, jumping around, all over the place.”

Richardson expects to adapt well to the offensive system of first-year Indy coach Shane Steichen, who worked with Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts the past two seasons as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator.

“We’ve all seen what he did with Jalen Hurts,” Richardson said. “I feel like I can perform the same way Jalen did. The offense is great. I’m pretty much familiar with what they’re going to run, and I’m excited to get into it.”

The Colts’ third draft pick during the third round on Friday night was North Carolina wide receiver Josh Downs. He was the No. 79 overall pick.

Downs said after the pick, “Really haven’t told me exactly what they want me to do. I remember talking to Reggie Wayne a few weeks ago and he told me he needed me on his squad. I really took that to heart because Reggie Wayne is a great receiver. So whatever they want to use me, I know it’s going to be great. They’ve got Anthony Richardson at quarterback; it’s going to be a great time.”

“I wanted to go earlier, but I’m so appreciative of this organization taking chance on me – in the grand scheme of things, in the third round, I love it and I’m excited to get to work.”