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Former Falcon drafted

Former UW-River Falls football player Owen Schmitt was drafted in the fifth round of the National Football League draft by the Seattle Seahawks Sunday.

Schmitt, who left UW-RF after his freshman season and became a three-year starter at fullback at West Virginia, was the 163rd overall pick in the draft.

A Gilman native, Schmitt was named to the 2003 All-WIAC team after rushing for a team-high 1,063 yards and scoring five touchdowns as a freshman at UW-RF.

River Falls High School baseball coach and fellow Gilman native Ryan Bishop, a friend of Schmitt's, attended Schmitt's draft party at his grandmother's house in Gilman and said Schmitt was thrilled when he got the call from Seahawks' coach Mike Holmgren.

"It was pretty cool and emotional; hard to put into words," Bishop said. "We'll put it this way: The entire town of Gilman (all 400) was celebrating and couldn't be more proud of Owen. He's especially excited because Mike Holmgren told him he gets to keep his number 35 when he called him after they picked him."

At West Virginia, Schmitt earned the starting fullback spot as a sophomore walk-on and capped his collegiate career by running for a West Virginia bowl record 57-yard touchdown run in the sixth-ranked Mountaineers 42-28 win over third-ranked Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.

At Seattle, Schmitt is expected to battle current backup David Kirtman at fullback behind starter Leonard Weaver as well as contribute on special teams. He leaves Thursday for Seattle to attend the team's minicamp.