Chris Brown has become the first Tarleton State Texan to sign an NFL free agent contract following last weekend's draft as the defensive tackle agreed to a deal with the Atlanta Falcons Monday.

"I am very excited for Chris," said head coach Cary Fowler. "He was hurt most of the year and ended up having surgery on his shoulder. I really wish he had been healthy for us all year. His hard work is giving him a chance to fulfill his dreams and I'm sure he'll represent Tarleton State in a great way."

Brown played in eight games during his injury-plagued final season at Tarleton, while still racking up 21 tackles, 3.0 tackles for a loss and a sack from the interior defensive line position.

Last season was the first and only for Brown in the purple and white of Tarleton State after transferring from Kansas State, where he played in nine games for the Wildcats in the 2013 season. The 6-4, 320-pound defensive tackle is a native of Mesa, Arizona.

Brown becomes the first Texan this season to reach the NFL and becomes the fourth active Tarleton State athlete in the National Football League, joining Dashaun Phillips, Saalim Hakim and Rufus Johnson.

Since Fowler took over the Texans in 2010, at least one Texan has been on an NFL roster when the professionals take the field for preseason games in August, including Garrett Lindholm (2010), Hakim (2011), Nick Stephens (2012), Johnson (2013) and Phillips (2014).

Training camps will open in the NFL on July 24 with the first preseason game of the year scheduled for August 9 when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings meet in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.

The first preseason game for the Atlanta Falcons is against the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 14.