Football

Who is Yodny Cajuste, the West Virginia tackle drafted by the New England Patriots?

West Virginia tackle Yodny Cajuste was drafted by the Patriots on Friday in the third round of the NFL Draft. The Mountaineers offensive lineman didn’t start playing football until his senior year at Miramar.
West Virginia tackle Yodny Cajuste was drafted by the Patriots on Friday in the third round of the NFL Draft. The Mountaineers offensive lineman didn’t start playing football until his senior year at Miramar. AP

Yodny Cajuste, who didn’t even start playing football at Miramar until his senior season, is now a second-day 2019 NFL Draft pick.

The New England Patriots selected Cajuste, an All-American tackle for the West Virginia Mountaineers, with a compensatory third-round pick — No. 101 overall — on Friday of the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville.

For most of his life, Cajuste was a basketball player and Patriots football coaches begged him to try out football all the way up until the spring of his junior year in Miramar. The coaches eventually convinced him to participate in spring practices with a caveat: Cajuste could quit before the fall, but only if he didn’t have any scholarship offers.

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Cajuste finished the spring with multiple and the Miami Herald quickly vaulted him into the top 50 of its prospect rankings for the Class of 2014. Cajuste finished the 2014 cycle as a three-star tackle in the 247Sports.com composite rankings, just sneaking inside the top 1,000 for the class nationally.

Understandably, Cajuste needed a redshirt season once he arrived in Morgantown, although one season on the bench was all he needed. The 6-foot-5, 312-pound offensive lineman started at left tackle as a redshirt freshman until suffering a knee injury. He then suffered another season-ending knee injury in the first game of his redshirt sophomore season, which meant his breakout had to wait until he was an upperclassman.

Cajuste finally got through a full season as a starter as a redshirt junior and was a second-team all-Big 12 Conference selection. As a redshirt senior in 2019, Cajuste was a first-team all-conference pick and second-team All-American, according to the Football Writers Association of America. With the athletic ability of a basketball player and ideal size, Cajuste solidified himself as an early-round pick in the Draft.

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