Cardinals agree to terms with 17 free-agents

Arizona Sports News online

The Arizona Cardinals have announced the free-agent rookie signings:

Troy wide receiver STANLEY ARUKWE (6-0, 184) is a former track star who played one season of football at Troy and had 12 catches for 231 yards while playing in all 12 games. A sprinter who started his collegiate career at Modesto Junior College for two years, Arukwe ran the 100-meters, 200-meters and 400-meters at Troy and earned medals in the 2010 Sun Belt Championships.

Linebacker BRODERICK BINNS (6-2, 261) from Iowa was named the team’s defensive MVP as a senior and was also selected second team All-Big Ten by the media after starting all 13 games and recording 60 tackles (32 solos) and five sacks at defensive end. For his career, Binns appeared in 51 games (31 starts) in four seasons with the Hawkeyes and collected 179 tackles (85 solos), 13 sacks, 25.5 tackles for loss, four fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles, and two interceptions. His 12 tackles for loss and five sacks as a senior were both good for second on the team last season.

Miami wide receiver LARON BYRD (6-4, 220) played in all 12 games as a senior (two starts) and finished the season with 11 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. A four-year player for the Hurricanes, Byrd appeared in 51 games with 16 starts and finished his collegiate career with 106 receptions for 1,254 yards (11.8 yard avg.) and seven touchdowns. He started six games as a junior and had a career-high 41 receptions after starting eight games as a sophomore when he set a career high with 460 receiving yards.

Idaho State guard BRAEDEN CLAYSON (6-6, 300) played and started in nine games as a senior with six appearances at right tackle and three at left guard. He was recognized as honorable mention All-Big Sky after helping the Bengals offensive set multiple single game and season records in 2011. A Burley, ID native, Clayson was a three-year starter and played in 42 career games and made 30 starts at right tackle, left tackle and left guard.

Purdue fullback JARED CRANK (6-2, 238) played in 37 games with four starts in 2011 and contributed on offense and special teams in four years with the Boilermakers. He totaled 198 yards and one TD on 54 carries (3.7 avg.) and caught six passes for 37 yards and three TDs over his career. His best season came as a senior, when he ran for a career-high 106 yards and had two TD receptions while helping Purdue reach a bowl game for the first time since 2007.

Guard BLAKE DECHRISTOPHER (6-5, 311) from Virginia Tech appeared in 52 of a possible 55 games (51 starts) in four seasons for the Hokies, including starting all 28 games over the past two years. As a senior in 2011, he earned first-team All-ACC honors and became the first Hokie player to win the ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy. He helped three separate running backs rush for 1,200 yards or more in a season, including Cardinals RB Ryan Williams, who ran for 1,655 yards and 21 TDs in 2009.

Utah defensive end TEVITA FINAU (6-4, 283) collected 42 tackles while playing in 21 games and making five starts in two seasons with the Utes. In 2011, he appeared in all 13 games and had 37 tackles, three sacks, and five tackles for loss. Prior to his time at Utah, Finau played at Phoenix College, where he was a second-team NJCAA All-American in 2007 and region Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2008.

Safety BLAKE GIDEON (6-1, 205) from Texas started all 53 games played during his four-year career with the Longhorns. His 52 consecutive starts rank second in school history. He was also a four-time honorable mention All-Big 12 selection who posted 276 tackles (166 solos), 10 interceptions, 20 pass defensed, two sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a blocked punt during his career. A team captain as a senior in 2011, Gideon started all 13 games and had 82 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

Richmond wide receiver TRE GRAY (5-10, 175) set single season school records with 95 receptions for 1,187 yards (12.4 yard avg.) and four touchdowns as a senior in 2011. He was named to the AP All-American third team and was selected to the All-CAA first team. He set Richmond career marks with 243 receptions for 3,101 yards to go along with 14 touchdowns in 50 games played. He was also selected first-team All-CAA as a junior in 2010 and was picked third-team All-CAA as a sophomore in 2009. He led the Spiders in receiving in each of his final three seasons.

Houston linebacker MARCUS MCGRAW (6-0, 228) started all 53 games in his four seasons with the Cougars and set a school record with 510 career tackles. He was the team leader in tackles in each of his four years, surpassing 100 tackles every season, including a career-high 156 as a sophomore in 2009. McGraw also totaled 37 tackles for loss, nine sacks, two INTs, eight forced fumbles, and five fumble recoveries during his Houston career and was a three-time All-Conference USA second team selection.

Linebacker ZACK NASH (6-4, 260) from Sacramento State set a school record with 29.5 career sacks and a single-season record with 13 sacks as a junior in 2010 while playing defensive end. He led the Hornets with 10.5 sacks as a senior in 2011 after playing in all 11 games and collecting 51 tackles (27 solos), a team leading 15 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and two passes defensed. He was selected first-team All-Big Sky in consecutive years (2010-11) and finished fifth in school history with 40.5 tackles for loss while playing in and starting 42 games.

Cornerback JAMES NIXON (6-1, 190) from California (Pa.) was a three-year player at Temple before transferring to play his last season with the Vulcans. Last season, he played in 12 games at California (Pa.) with two starts and had 14 tackles with one pass defensed as well as three kickoff returns for 59 yards. At Temple, he played in 37 games (10 starts) on offense and defense and special teams. As a kick returner, Nixon had 41 returns for 1,058 yards (25.8 yard avg.) to go along with 42 carries for 322 yards and 13 receptions for 373 yards.

Colorado defensive end CONRAD OBI (6-3, 290) appeared in 41 career games, including all 25 over the past two seasons. After playing just 99 snaps on defense in his first three years, he was on the field for 381 snaps on defense and made seven starts as a senior. Obi totaled 36 tackles during his four seasons with the Buffaloes, including a career-high 31 tackles, three pass break-ups, one tackle for loss, and one fumble recovery in 2011.

Arizona State linebacker COLIN PARKER (6-1, 223), the son of former ASU and NFL defensive back Anthony Parker, is a Chandler, AZ native who attended Hamilton High School before playing with the Sun Devils. He played in 44 games with 18 starts and totaled 140 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, one INT, five pass break-ups, five forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries during his ASU career. He enjoyed his best season in 2011 when he started all 13 games and led the team with a career-high 75 tackles while earning Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 honors.

Arizona linebacker PAUL VASSALLO (6-3, 247) started all 25 games in his two years with the Wildcats and totaled 172 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, three sacks, four pass break-ups, two fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble. In 2010, he was named Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 after leading the Wildcats with 102 tackles. Vassallo began his college career at Nevada before transferring to Sierra College (Rocklin, CA) where he played his first two years.

Northern Illinois center SCOTT WEDIGE (6-4, 310) was a two-year starter and helped the Huskies to back-to-back 11-win seasons and a 15-1 record in regular season MAC games the past two seasons. He played in 43 games over his career at NIU, starting all 28 the last two seasons, and earned first-team All-MAC honors each of the past two years. As a senior in 2011, Wedige was a second-team All-American selection by and helped the Huskies to their first MAC championship since 1983.

Wide receiver MARC WILSON (5-11, 190) from St. Anselm College established school records for receptions (211), receiving yards (2,149) and receiving touchdowns (17) in 37 career games. He was a two-time All-Northeast 10 Conference first-team selection including in his senior year as he had 72 receptions for 770 yards and five touchdowns. He also added 1,626 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns for a school record 30 total TD’s. He switched to wide receiver as a sophomore after starting as a running back as a freshman.

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