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How's this for a twist? First Canes player taken on Saturday in NFL Draft: punter Pat O'Donnell.

Miami Hurricane Pat O'Donnell of Lake Worth, yes, PUNTER Pat O'Donnell, just got selected by the Chicago Bears 191st overall -- the 15th pick in the sixth round -- in the NFL Draft.

I've said it numerous times (and so has UM coach Al Golden): O'Donnell is a beast.

O'Donnell played his first three seasons for Cincinnati before transferring to the Canes and being allowed to play immediately because of the exemption graduated senior transfers get from the NCAA. He was a graduate student.

He's the first UM player taken in Saturday's final day of the draft and the first kicker of any type taken in this draft -- and he's an amazing athlete.

O'Donnell, 6-4 and 220 pounds, earned All-America honors from USA Today and set Miami's single-season record by averaging 47.1 yards per punt that ranked second in the nation en route to being named a 2013 All-ACC selection.

At the NFL Combine, O'Donnell's time of 4.62 seconds in the 40-yard dash tied former USC kicker David Buehler from 2009 as the fastest 40 for a kicker or punter since 2006. O'Donnell also did 23 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press -- more than six tight ends, 19 running backs, 21 defensive linemen and all 37 wide receivers.

In the final regular-season game of 2013, O'Donnell earned ACC Player of the Week honors. 

Against Pitt, O'Donnell kicked four punts for a 44.2-yard average, including three kicks inside Pitt's 20-yard line. However, his biggest play occurred on the opening kickoff, when he forced a Pitt fumble which was recovered by UM's Garrett Kidd. That forced fumble resulted in a touchdown by Stacy Coley.

It's almost impossible to believe he wasn't even named among the SEMIFINALSTS for the Ray Guy Award. 

Not that any of it matters now. Be assured that O'Donnell will be an NFL success.

Meanwhile, quarterback Stephen Morris, receiver Allen Hurns and tackle Seantrel Henderson still wait.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

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