NORMAL - Former Illinois State football players Walter Mendenhall and Tom Nelson signed free agent NFL contracts on Sunday night.
Mendenhall, a running back, signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. He led ISU in rushing with 796 yards on 126 carries and 11 touchdowns.
"It's been a long, hard road," said Mendenhall, posted four 100-yard rushing games, including a 225-yard rushing day against Youngstown State. "I'm just thankful to God for the opportunity to extend my playing career. I'm just so excited right now and ready to get work."
Pennsylvania's NFL franchises can now claim both Mendenhall brothers, with Walter's younger brother Rashard on the Pittsburgh Steelers' roster.
Nelson, a safety, signed on with the Cincinnati Bengals. He led the Redbirds with 81 tackles, including 43 solo stops.
"I'm extremely excited for the opportunity and can't wait to get to Cincinnati to compete," said Nelson, who also led the Missouri Valley Football Conference with a 15.59 punt return average.