Maponga, Boyce ready for chance in the NFL


After four and a half rounds of watching other defensive ends get selected, Stansly Maponga needed a break from watching the 2013 NFL Draft.

He stepped in the shower and turned on the water, but then his phone rang.

“I didn’t care if the phone got wet, nothing like that,” the defensive end said. “I just quickly answered the phone and the Falcons were there.”

The Atlanta Falcons made a trade with the Chicago Bears in the fifth round to grab the First-Team Big 12 selection.

“It was just a big relief,” Maponga said. “Tears of joy coming out. Just saying here’s a start, they’re giving me a chance.”

The San Diego Chargers, Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all passed on the defensive end after telling him they would select him, he said. Because of that, Maponga said, he will play with a chip on his shoulder when he plays on Sundays.

“[The chip] is going to be on my back forever,” Maponga said.  “I’m going to continue to work hard and prove people wrong.”

Maponga was the second Horned Frog to be selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. A few hours earlier, wide receiver Josh Boyce received a call from the front office of the New England Patriots, and was told he will spend next season catching passes from three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady.

“[Brady] is probably going to demand a lot of perfection out of me, so whatever he asks for,” Boyce, New England’s fourth round pick, said. “He’s been in the league a long time so I know that he knows what he’s talking about. So whatever he asks for, I can do it.”

Boyce, who visited Boston for the first time the weekend of April 13, will return to the region Thursday to prepare for rookie minicamp this weekend and training camp the following week.

Boyce will be reunited with two former teammates in Boston, as offensive lineman Marcus Cannon and special teams player Malcolm Williams were previous draft selections by the Patriots. As the NFL and Boston area will be new territory for Boyce, he said he’s already reached out to Marcus Cannon for advice.

“It’s great having somebody that you played with in college going to the same team,” Boyce said.