FLOWERY BRANCH -- The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have signed linebacker Prince Shembo, cornerback Ricardo Allen, linebacker Marquis Spruill, linebacker Yawin Smallwood, and linebacker Tyler Starr. The terms of the agreements were not disclosed.
Shembo, 6-0, 253 pounds, was selected in the fourth round (137th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft. He started 34 of 51 games at Notre Dame finishing with 145 tackles (71 solo), 24.5 tackles for loss, 35 quarterback pressures, one fumble recovery, and two forced fumbles. His 19.5 sacks rank seventh in Notre Dame annals. Shembo started all 13 games in 2013, posting 48 tackles (26 solo), with 5.5 sacks for a loss of 46 yards. He was credited with a career-high 17 quarterback pressures which were the most by an Irish player since 2004.
Allen, 5-9, 186 pounds, was selected by the Falcons in the fifth round (147th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft. He earned All-Big 10 honors all four years and finished his career as the Purdue record holder with four interception returns for touchdowns, 13 interceptions and 263 total tackles. Allen led the Boilermakers with six interceptions in 2013 while adding 53 (42 solo), with four tackles for loss, and 12 passes defensed.
Spruill, 6-0, 224 pounds, was selected by the Falcons in the fifth round (168th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft. He earned four letters at Syracuse and was one of 15 true freshmen to play in 2010. Spruill served as a team captain and was a member of 2013 Spring Athletic Director's Honor Roll as a senior. His 41 tackles for loss ranks second in program history. Spruill started all 13 games in 2013, earning All-ACC honorable mention honors after posting 14.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
Smallwood, 6-4, 236 pounds, was selected by the Falcons in the seventh round (253rd overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft. He started all 36 games of his career at middle linebacker, and was the Huskies leading tackler in his final two seasons. He totaled 94 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks while adding three pass breakups, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble return. Smallwood served as a team captain as a senior in 2013 earning first team All-American Athletic Conference honors after posting 118 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and a team-high four sacks.
Starr, 6-4, 250 pounds, was selected by the Falcons in the seventh round (255th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft. He was named the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 after registering 71 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and nine sacks while adding four passes defensed, one interception, and four forced fumbles. He played in the East-West Shrine Game and finished his career at South Dakota as the school's all-time leader with 27 sacks.