Houston picks Newnan's Alan Bonner in 6th round
by Chris Goltermann
They say everything is bigger in Texas. But Alan Bonner’s been prepared for football’s largest stage for sometime.
On Saturday, the Houston Texans gave the Newnan native the opportunity he’s been waiting for.
Bonner became the second former Cougars football player to hear his name in the 2013 NFL Draft when the Texans selected the Jacksonville State wide-receiver/kick returner in the sixth round with the 195th overall pick.
“It’s been a long journey and it’s just a blessing,” Bonner said Saturday after learning of his draft selection. “I was just playing the waiting game for the last few hours and I was just filled with joy when I saw my name on the screen.”
He becomes the sixth Newnan player to reach the NFL and second over a three-day span that began with high-school teammate Alec Ogletree being selected 30th overall by the St. Louis Rams. Bonner was also just the eighth player in Jacksonville State’s football history to be selected — and the first since 1991.
“I’m just so excited to have the opportunity to continue my playing career,” said Bonner. “I’m ready to take my game to a whole another level.”
An All-State receiver at Newnan High who also played a big role in the Cougars reaching the Class AAAAA semifinals in both football and basketball during the 2008-09 school year, Bonner signed with the FCS school after having a Division I scholarship taken off the table in the days leading up to National Signing Day.
He made the most of the offer from the Gamecocks, playing as a true freshman before eventually setting single-game and career receiving records with the program last fall as a senior.
In 44 games at JSU, Bonner became the program’s all-time career leader in punt return yards (972) and punt returns (87), while ranking second on the career pass receiving yards (1,986) and pass receiving touchdowns with 20. He also set the school single-season record with 648 kick return yards on 25 returns during the 2010 season.
Following his senior year, Bonner earned invitations to play in both the Senior Bowl and the inaugural Raycom All-Star Classic. He continued workouts after January both in Boca Raton, Fla., and in Atlanta after also earning a chance to showcase his skills at this year’s NFL Combine.
“I think with the season I had this year and being at those All-Star Games and being at the [NFL] Combine and Pro Days, I was able to get some exposure,” Bonner said prior to the draft.
The Texans are expected to look at Bonner as a kick returner in addition to receiving duties. Last year the team used several players with little success at the spot. They included cut Trindon Holliday, who was picked up by Denver.
Bonner didn’t let a small-school background hamper a dream to play professional football after college.
“You got to be dedicated to the game,” he said. “I’ve learned that it’s not where you come from. It’s just about all what you do on the field.”