News: Clarence E. Hill Jr.-->Lamar High grad signs with Cowboys

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    Lamar High grad signs with Cowboys

    By Clarence E. Hill Jr.
    Star-Telegram Staff Writer

    IRVING - As far as dreams coming true, this was not how Cedric Hilliard envisioned he would join the Cowboys.

    Just the same, Hilliard, the Arlington Lamar graduate who spent the past four years playing defensive tackle at Notre Dame, is excited about the opportunity to come home and play for the team he dreamed about as a kid.

    Hilliard is one of seven undrafted rookies who have come to terms with the Cowboys on free-agent contracts.

    The others are Florida defensive end Darrell Lee, Arkansas-Monticello guard Darrick Sanders, Houston receiver Brandon Middleton, Oregon State receiver James Newson, Arkansas safety Tom Crowder and Texas defensive end Kalen Thornton.

    The Cowboys, looking to fill holes they couldn't address in the draft and improve depth at certain positions, hope to reach agreements with several more undrafted prospects before this weekend's rookie mini-camp, set for Friday through Sunday at the team's Valley Ranch headquarters.

    "It was definitely disappointing not being drafted," Hilliard said. "I wanted to be drafted. But the big thing for me is I want to play football on the NFL level. And I am excited about coming to Dallas. I've called a lot of my friends and said, 'I'm coming home.' "

    A high school All-American at Lamar in 1998, Hilliard went to Notre Dame with high hopes. However, he was slowed for much of his career by injuries, and never lived up to expectations.

    He only missed one game in 2003, but his play was limited all season by a nagging ankle injury.

    "I still have a lot to prove," Hilliard said. "Not being drafted is a motivating factor. Any time people question your ability to do things, you use it as motivation."

    What also excited Hilliard about coming home to the Cowboys is he will be bringing a friend along in Notre Dame running back Julius Jones, the team's second-round draft pick.

    "We both come in in different situations, but knowing each other and having that familiarity factor will help," Hilliard said. "So, from that standpoint, it does create a special situation."

    Clarence E. Hill Jr. (817) 390-7760

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