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Senior Bowl says Spartans CB Darqueze Dennard accepted invite

Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports
Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard is among the nation's top senior defensive backs.

Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard is among the first three players to accept an invitation to play in the 2014 Senior Bowl, Senior Bowl officials announced Monday.

Dennard (5-foot-11, 197 pounds) is widely considered one of the nation's top five senior corners and NFL Media draft analyst Gil Brandt slotted Dennard 35th in his midseason ranking of the nation's top 100 seniors.

Arkansas C Travis Swanson and Virginia DT Brent Urban have also accepted invitations, according to the Senior Bowl's announcement.

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The Senior Bowl annually gathers the nation's top senior NFL draft prospects in Mobile, Ala., in late January for an all-star game coached by NFL staffs. The 2014 game is scheduled for Jan. 25.

Dennard is the Spartans' fifth-leading tackler (37 stops) and leads the team with three picks and seven pass breakups, matching his numbers in those categories from last season. He also has four quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. Dennard is a physical player who is comfortable in press coverage.

His cousin, Alfonzo Dennard, played at Nebraska from 2008-11 and now starts for the New England Patriots.

Darqueze Dennard was lightly recruited out of tiny Jeffersonville (Ga.) Twiggs County High, but he has been an important player since he arrived on campus in 2010. He was a late commitment to Michigan State after Christian Bryant committed to Ohio State over the Spartans. Bryant started for the Buckeyes until suffering a season-ending ankle injury in late September.

Swanson (6-5, 315) has started all 48 games of his career with the Razorbacks and said before the season that he consulted the NFL's Draft Advisory Board when deciding whether to enter the 2013 NFL Draft. He said he received feedback suggesting he would be drafted in the third round or later before opting to return to Arkansas.

An ankle injury has kept Urban (6-7, 295) out for the past four games, but he leads the nation in passes deflected by a defensive lineman with eight. He has 30 tackles, including 7.5 for losses, this season, but only one sack. Urban, a native of Mississauga, Ontario, was selected with the 15th pick in 2013 Canadian Football League Draft by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The CFL franchise holds his rights through the end of his college eligibility.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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