Just like that, the Cincinnati Bengals have become very popular in Ardmore.

Just like that, the Cincinnati Bengals have become very popular in Ardmore.

The AFC North champions made former Ardmore High and Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham the 21st overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night. Local Gresham fans saw league commissioner Roger Goodell announce the draft on live television at a party in Gresham’s honor at his home barber shop, Your Crown and Glory, on East Main Street.

“I’m just proud in knowing someone from this geographical area, where there isn’t a whole lot of pro athletes who’ve come from here, has made it,” said barber Jerome Shannon, who’s known Gresham since he was a kid.

Gresham, who missed the 2009 season with torn cartilage in his right knee, was not at the party. Shannon said he cut Gresham’s hair on Wednesday, but added he wasn’t sure where the player would watch the draft.

A man who answered the door at Gresham’s home in Ardmore on Thursday said he was in either Norman or Oklahoma City.

Gresham was the fourth Sooner to be drafted in the first round. The first three — quarterback Sam Bradford to St. Louis, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to Tampa Bay and offensive tackle Trent Williams to Washington — were among the top four picks.

Oklahoma State had two draftees Thursday: offensive tackle Russell Okung to Seattle at No. 6 and Dez Bryant to Dallas at No. 24.

The draft watchers at Gresham’s party were “very excited” about the Bengals’ pick when it was made, Shannon said.

Gresham joins an old Big 12 rival — Missouri’s Chase Coffman — in the tight end corps at Cincinnati. Coffman, who was drafted in the second round last year, was picked over Gresham for the 2008 John Mackey Award, presented to college football’s top tight end. Thursday marked the first time the Bengals drafted someone at that position in the first round, according to the team’s Web site.

“They wanted to get Jermaine last year, had he come out (of Oklahoma),” Shannon said. “Otherwise they wouldn’t have taken the big kid from Missouri. Now they got both of them.”

And Tiger meets Tiger — this time with the same stripes.

“(Gresham) used to be a Tiger. Why not be a Bengal?” Shannon said.

I.C. Murrell