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In 2012, Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton proved that NFL talent comes from smaller schools in the state of Florida. Now, it’s safety John Cyprien who is hoping to carry that torch for Florida International University.


INDIANAPOLIS – John Cyprien knows that in today's game NFL safeties are being asked to cover wide receivers with offenses incorporating spread elements.

During his four years at Florida International, Cyprien occasionally would line up on slot receivers in dime packages but his most experience facing elite receivers would come in practice.

From 2009-2011, Cyprien would battle with Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton.

"If you don't get your hands on him, it's done. You can call it quits," Cyprien said of the speedy Hilton. "He's a great player, and I'm so happy for what he's done in his rookie year. But it's nothing that me and everyone from FIU didn't expect. I hope to play against him soon."

Cyprien could very well get that chance this fall as he is continuing to climb up draft boards and finds himself among one of the top safeties in the 2013 rookie class.

With just two Division I offers out of high school Cyprien stayed at home and attended FIU.

He wasted no time finding his way on the field and finished second on the team in tackles as a true freshman.

Even though Cyprien did not find himself at one of the major programs in the state of Florida, scouts still found their way to FIU.

Thanks to players like Hilton and Florida Atlantic product and current Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris, the Sun Belt has attracted NFL scouts over the past few years.

"Teams are aware that I did come from Florida International, but I think there's a lot of talent in the Sun Belt conference, not just from Florida International, but the entire conference," Cyprien said at this year's NFL Combine.

Cyprien leaves FIU as the school's all-time leading tackler and enters the draft as one of the hardest hitters at the safety position.

The Senior Bowl for Cyprien helped showcase those skills, playing on the North team for the Oakland Raiders staff.

"Jonathan Cyprien from Florida International is a guy you ought to be looking really closely at (in the second round)," NFL Network Analyst Mike Mayock said.  "(Cyprien) had a great Senior Bowl week. I've got him as my number three safety."

Cyprien appreciates Mayock's notion but he is striving for a few slots higher on NFL team's draft board of safeties.

He has benefited from competing against NFL talent in college and now Cyprien heads into the month of April wanting to see his name called first at the safety position.

"I think I'm the No. 1 (safety) because I can bring a lot and contribute to a team winning games, and making plays when called," Cyprien said. "I can come in and say it all I want to, but at the end of the day, when I have my opportunity, I want to shine in all that I do."

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