UConn in the NFL: Jones, Griffin face off

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones (31) breaks up a pass in the end zone intended for Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

As UConn’s football program continues to struggle, fans of the sport can look to the NFL and former UConn players to fill the void our program is leaving us with.

Byron Jones, Dallas Cowboys

Byron Jones has been the best cornerback for the Cowboys this season.  He leads the team in passes defense and is second on the team in solo tackles.  His skills were put to the test this week as he was put against the Houston Texans speedster Will Fuller V and All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins.  Jones struggled at times, conceding huge passes to Hopkins, including a 30-yard catch and run to end the first quarter, and giving up his first ever pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter, which gave the Texans the ball at the goal line.  The Texans would settle for a field goal giving them the lead, 16-13. Despite his struggles, Jones still turned in one of his best games of the season, recording 10 total tackles, eight of which were solo, and two passes defensed.

Ryan Griffin, Houston Texans

On the winning side of that same game, Houston tight end Ryan Griffin highlights UConn’s presence on the offensive side of the ball this week.  Griffin had his most productive game of the season Sunday against the Cowboys, recording six receptions on nine targets for 65 yards, including a key third down reception in the third quarter, which led to a game-tying field goal.  Griffin was quarterback Deshaun Watson’s second favorite target behind Hopkins.

Anthony Sherman, Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman recorded his third catch of the season against the highly touted Jacksonville defense.  Sherman was on the field for only five snaps but made the most of them by blocking for his running backs Kareem Hunt and Spencer Ware, and catching a 15-yard throw from QB Patrick Mahomes on a crucial third down in the first quarter, which led to the Chiefs’ first score.

Shamar Stephen, Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks starting defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, and the rest of Seattle’s interior defensive line, did a good job of stopping All-Pro running back Todd Gurley from running inside.  Stephen only managed to record one assisted tackle, and that came in the fourth quarter, but Gurley only managed to gain 20 yards on 10 attempts between the left and right guards.

Geremy Davis, San Diego Chargers

Chargers wideout Geremy Davis has played in four of their five games, but is still on a quest to record his first catch of the season.  He was on the field for just nine snaps during Sunday’s dominant win against Oakland. During this time, he did not receive a single target from QB Phillip Rivers.

Tim Boyle (GB), Foley Fatukasi (NYJ) and Blidi Wreh-Wilson (ATL) are the remaining UConn graduates, which make up a part of their respective team’s 53-man rosters, but did not see playtime this week.

Although UConn doesn’t have a huge presence in the NFL, we make our presence felt through potential pro-bowlers in Jones to consistent performers like Griffin and Sherman.  I’m sure our university’s alumni will continue to make UConn’s presence felt in the NFL in the coming weeks and into the playoff picture.


Jesse Turner is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at jesse.turner@uconn.edu.