Opening Day NFL Rosters have 79 C-USA, including 7 MU players


IRVING, Texas — A total of 79 players from current Conference USA schools, including seven former players from Marshall who are playing in the National Football League, appeared on the opening day rosters of NFL teams this past weekend when the league opened its 96th season.

A total of 13 C-USA schools have players in the NFL, with seven producing at least five players. Louisiana Tech has the most former players on current NFL rosters with 11, while Southern Miss has 10, Rice has nine and Marshall and Florida Atlantic each have seven.

MUFB Lee Smith 2015 is a Raider

Lee Smith signed a three-year deal with the Oakland Raiders this spring, after three seasons of tight end with the Buffalo Bills, after he was cut initially by the team that drafted him, the New England Patriots. (courtesy Oakland Raiders)

Marshall players in the NFL include both Aaron Dobson, winning a Super Bowl last season, and rookie Darryl Roberts with the New England Patriots, Doug Legursky returns to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he played 2008-12 where he won a Super Bowl championship in two appearances (Marshall’s longest playing player in the NFL, since 2008), Lee Smith is now with the Oakland Raiders after playing for the Buffalo Bills, Vinny Curry plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, rookie Neville Hewitt is with the Miami Dolphins and Albert McClelland is with the Baltimore Ravens, where he has won a Super Bowl.

MUFB Vinny Curry vs. NY Giants 2014

Vinny Curry, here putting the hurt on New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, has been a member of the Philadelphia Eagles since 2012, when he was drafted in the second round. (courtesy Philadelphia Eagles)

Marshall players who did not resign this year included CJ Spillman (last year with Dallas Cowboys), Mario Harvey (New York Jets), Ahmed Bradshaw (Indianapolis Colts), Chris Crocker (Minnesota Vikings), Omar Brown (Baltimore Ravens) and Gator Hoskins (Miami Dolphins). Players who signed this spring but cut included center Chris Jasperse (Cincinnati Bengals) and tight end Eric Frohnapfel (San Diego Chargers).

Of the 32 NFL teams, all but Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions have at least one player from a Conference USA school. The New England Patriots have the most players from C-USA schools with six (plus former Marshall and Houston quarterback Chad O’Shea, who coaches receivers at New England, and played at Marshall from 1991-92). The Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers have four players from C-USA apiece.

MUFB Neville Hewitt Miami Dolphins 2015

Rookie linebacker Neville Hewitt signed with the Miami Dolphins as a free agent this spring, and made the 53-man roster for opening day. (courtesy Bayouedits)

Marshall also has two former players in the CFL, playing north of the border. Rakeem Cato is a starting quarterback for the Montreal Alouettes, and Alex Bazzie is a pass rush specialist at defensive end with the British Columbia Lions. Former slot receiver Tommy Shuler has worked out for three CFL teams, but the Alouettes currently hold his rights as he remains unsigned.

MUFB Rakeem Cato vs. Calgary 1st start

Rakeem Cato worked out with the Cleveland Browns, and then signed with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. He started all games until last week, when he missed a game for a family emergency in South Florida. (courtesy Montreal Alouettes)

Former Herd graduate athletic trainer Joe Recknagel is in his 35th year as an assistant trainer with the Detroit Lions, working at Marshall and Detroit summer camps two seasons, 1979-81, after graduating from Ohio University. He joined the Lions full time in 1981.

Former Herd defensive assistants Rick Minter (also a head coach at the University of Cincinnati, and interim head coach of the Herd when Marshall won the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in 2009) and Jerry Azzinaro are assistant defensive coaches and members of the Philadelphia Eagles staff, as is former Herd quarterback Press Taylor (offensive quality control coach) and former student-manager Dustin Stover (assistant equipment manager).

Former MU offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Chris Scelfo (also head coach at Tulane) is a long-time tight ends coach with the Atlanta Falcons.

MUFB Randy Moss vs. San Diego

Former Marshall and NFL receiver Randy Moss is retired from playing, but covers the league for FOX Sports. (courtesy Minnesota Vikings)

Former tight end Jermaine Wiggins (MU 1994-95) and receiver/return specialist Troy Brown (MU 1991-92) both played and won a Super Bowl (three for Brown) for the New England Patriots, and now both work with Boston-area media covering the Pats, while former Marshall receiver (1996-97) Randy Moss works for FOX in covering the NFL.

Here’s a look at all of the C-USA players on opening day NFL rosters (*injured reserve; #practice squad):

  • MARSHALL (7)
  • Vinny Curry    DE    Philadelphia Eagles (since 2012)
  • Aaron Dobson    WR    New England Patriots (since 2013)
  • Neville Hewitt    OLB    Miami Dolphins (2015)
  • Doug Legursky    C/G    Pittsburgh Steelers (2nd time with Steelers (2008-12, also with Bills in 2013 and Chargers in 2014)
  • Albert McClellan    OLB    Baltimore Ravens (since 2010)
  • *Darryl Roberts    CB    New England Patriots (2015)
  • Lee Smith    TE    Oakland Raiders (signed in 2015, after playing for Bills and drafted by Pats in 2011)
  • FIU (4)
  • Johnathan Cyprien    S    Jacksonville Jaguars
  • #Isame Faciane    DT    Minnesota Vikings
  • T.Y. Hilton    WR    Indianapolis Colts
  • Tourek Williams    OLB    San Diego Chargers
  • #Adarius Glanton    LB    Carolina Panthers
  • Rob Housler    TE    Cleveland Browns
  • Randell Johnson    LB    Buffalo Bills
  • Alfred Morris    RB    Washington Redskins
  • Keith Reaser    CB    San Francisco 49ers
  • D’Joun Smith    CB    Indianapolis Colts
  • Lucky Whitehead    WR    Dallas Cowboys
  • Ryan Allen    P    New England Patriots
  • Houston Bates    LB    Washington Redskins
  • #Mitchell Bell    OL    Oakland Raiders
  • Justin Ellis    DT    Oakland Raiders
  • #IK Enemkpali    DE    Buffalo Bills
  • Luke McCown    QB    New Orleans Saints
  • Jordan Mills    OT    Dallas Cowboys
  • Quinton Patton    WR    San Francisco 49ers
  • Josh Scobee    K    Pittsburgh Steelers
  • #Myles White    WR    New York Giants
  • Tramon Williams    CB    Cleveland Browns
  • Benny Cunningham    RB    St. Louis Rams
  • Jamari Lattimore    LB    New York Jets
  • #Sammy Seamster    CB    New Orleans Saints
  • #Jimmy Staten    DT    New England Patriots
  • Erik Walden    LB    Indianapolis Colts
  • Josh Walker    OG    Green Bay Packers
  • #Derek Akunne    LB    Atlanta Falcons
  • Lance Dunbar    RB    Dallas Cowboys
  • #Cyril Lemon    OG    New Orleans Saints
  • Zachary Orr    LB    Baltimore Ravens
  • Craig Robertson    LB    Cleveland Browns
  • Taylor Heinicke    QB    Minnesota Vikings
  • RICE (9)
  • Bryce Callahan    CB    Chicago Bears
  • James Casey    TE/FB    Denver Broncos
  • Christian Covington    DT    Houston Texans
  • Phillip Gaines    CB    Kansas City Chiefs
  • Vance McDonald    TE    San Francisco 49ers
  • Andrew Sendejo    S    Minnesota Vikings
  • Scott Solomon    LB    Cleveland Browns
  • #Jordan Taylor    WR    Denver Broncos
  • Luke Willson    TE    Seattle Seahawks
  • Chris Clark    OT    Houston Texans
  • Jamie Collins    LB    New England Patriots
  • Austin Davis    QB    Cleveland Browns
  • *Demar Dotson    OT    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • *Lamar Holmes    OT    Atlanta Falcons
  • Tom Johnson    DT    Minnesota Vikings
  • Cordarro Law    LB    San Diego Chargers
  • Rakeem Nunez-Roches    DL    Kansas City Chiefs
  • Khyri Thornton    DT    New England Patriots
  • *Jason Weaver    OT    Chicago Bears
  • UAB (6)
  • Kennard Backman    TE    Green Bay Packers
  • Chris Hubbard    C/G    Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Matt McCants     OT    Oakland Raiders
  • J.J. Nelson    WR    Arizona Cardinals
  • Joe Webb    QB    Carolina Panthers
  • Roddy White    WR    Atlanta Falcons
  • UTEP (5)
  • Antwon Blake    CB    Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Quintin Demps    DB    Houston Texans
  • Jon Dorenbos    LS    Philadelphia Eagles
  • #Jamiell Showers    QB    Dallas Cowboys
  • #Eric Tomlinson    TE    Houston Texans
  • UTSA (2)
  • #Ashaad Mabry    DL    New Orleans Saints
  • Teddy Williams    CB    Carolina Panthers
  • WKU (6)
  • Antonio Andrews    RB    Tennessee Titans
  • Jonathan Dowling    S    Miami Dolphins
  • Jack Doyle    TE    Indianapolis Colts
  • Mitchell Henry    TE    Denver Broncos
  • Bobby Rainey    RB    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • #Cam Thomas    CB    Buffalo Bills

About Woody Woodrum

Senior Editor and columnist/writer for Herd Insider since 2003, with Kindred Communications on radio for Marshall football/men's basketball pregame and postgame shows since 1996 and with First Sentry Bank Sportsline (Also Scott on Sports, Sideline Sports and Herd Insider Sportsline) since 1997. Married to Liz (12-22-1990) and one son, Tre' (11-7-1997). National Sportswriters & Sportscasters West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year winner for radio, 2000; won W.Va. Broadcasters Best Talk Show in 2013 with co-host Paul Swann and W.Va. Broadcasters Best Play-by-Play in 2015 with Jason Toy (Huntington at South Charleston, state AAA semifinals). Member of (College) Football Writers Association of America, (College) Basketball Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Color commentator for Marshall football (1999-2000), for Marshall basketball (2004-2016) and Marshall baseball (2004-2016). Color for high school football at Spring Valley (1999-2008), Cabell Midland (2009-2012) and Huntington (W.Va.) High School (2013-2016).

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