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Gwinnett's Kugbila, Smith and Butler get the call in NFL Draft

It didn't take long Saturday for the list of Gwinnett alumni taken in this year's NFL Draft to grow after Peachtree Ridge grad and LSU linebacker Kevin Minter was taken by Arizona in the second round a night earlier.

Two former local high school players were selected each of the first two rounds of the draft's concluding day and a third went later. The Carolina Panthers took former Central Gwinnett offensive lineman Edmund Kugblia with the 108th overall pick in the fourth round, while former Grayson defensive and Quanterus Smith was taken in the fifth round by the Denver Broncos. Norcross grad Brice Butler, a wide receiver, was selected in the seventh round by the Oakland Raiders.

Kugbila, a native of Ghana, took the smaller college route to pro football after graduating from Central in 2009.

The 6-foot-4, 317-pounder, who began playing football in the seventh grade, contributed all four seasons at Valdosta State.

He earned All-Gulf South Conference and All-American honors his final two seasons, helping the Blazers to the national championship last season, and is excited about getting a shot to compete for a spot on Carolina's roster.

"Not many Division II guys get this kind of an opportunity," Kugbila said. "And not many football players out of Central Gwinnett have gotten this opportunity.

"I think (the Panthers) are a good fit for me. They run much of the same stuff we ran in college. Now it's time to get to work."

Smith, meanwhile, will also get a shot at the NFL, with the Broncos selecting the 6-foot-4 , 250-pound defensive end despite suffering a torn knee ligament during his senior season at Western Kentucky last fall.

Smith still had a strong season, with 18 tackles for loss, including 12 sacks, and three forced fumbles in just 10 games last season -- earning him Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Butler was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school who played three seasons at Southern California. He stayed on the West Coast for his final college season, catching 24 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns last season at San Diego State.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder is the son of former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Bobby Butler.

-- Sports Editor Will Hammock contributed to this report