UConn in the NFL: Which former Huskies could make an impact this season?


Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Geremy Davis, hauls in a pass as Saints defensive back Vonn Bell covers during the second half of an NFL preseason football game. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

As the 2018 NFL season is set to get underway this Thursday night, teams made their final cuts this weekend in order to get the rosters down to the 53-man maximum. That meant good news for some former Huskies who found themselves on a team, but also some bad news for those ex-UConn players who were part of the mandatory cuts.

Let’s start with those Huskies who made teams and are looking to make an impact in the 2018 season.

Geremy Davis WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Davis was drafted by the New York Giants in the 6th round of the 2015 Draft. In that season, he appeared in 10 games but made only two receptions for 21 yards. Since then, it has been a rollercoaster for Davis. He’s jumped from the practice squad to the active roster multiple times for the Chargers, but has only appeared in five games for them in the past two seasons and has no receptions in that time.

However, after an impressive preseason and an especially impressive game in Week 1 (4 receptions, 88 yards, 1 TD), Davis earned a spot on the Chargers’ roster and will hopefully get some reps at wide receiver this season.

Folorunso Fatukasi DE, New York Jets
Fatukasi was the only UConn player drafted in the 2018 Draft, when he was taken in the sixth round by the Jets. After performing well in training camp and in the preseason, the Jets kept himon the roster as one of their six defensive linemen. He should definitely be able to get plenty of reps this season, whether at defensive end or defensive tackle, as he can play both.

Ryan Griffin TE, Houston Texans
Griffin has enjoyed a successful NFL career since being drafted by the Texans in the sixth round of the 2013 Draft. In five seasons with the team, he has compiled almost 1,200 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on 112 receptions. Primarily a backup, his best season was in 2016 when
he played in all 16 games and made 50 catches for 442 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He only played in seven games last season due to a concussion, but after the retirement of C.J. Fiedorowicz, Griffin is now the Texans’ starting tight end. He is primed for a big comeback this season.

Byron Jones CB, Dallas Cowboys
Jones is one of only two players from UConn ever to be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. He was taken 27th overall by the Cowboys back in 2015, and he has been a staple of their secondary since. In his career, he has had 162 solo tackles, 24 passes defended, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions (one for a TD). Jones has played in all 48 games over the past
three seasons, primarily at free safety. However, he will be one of the starting cornerbacks for the Cowboys in 2018.

Anthony Sherman FB, Kansas City Chiefs
Sherman is the longest-tenured former Husky in the NFL, now going into his eighth season. He has been in the league since 2011 when he was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round. He has been one of the most consistent and durable guys in the league during his career.

Since joining the Chiefs in 2013, he has not missed a game. Primarily a lead blocking fullback, Sherman still has three touchdowns and 483 scrimmage yards in his career on offense. He also has 37 tackles and three fumble recoveries on special teams. We can expect more of the same from the Chiefs’ Mr. Dependable in 2018.

Shamar Stephen DT, Seattle Seahawks
Stephen was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round of the 2014 Draft. He spent the last four seasons with them before signing with the Seahawks this off-season. In his time with the Vikings, he played in 52 games and recorded 41 solo tackles, one sack and one pass deflection. Stephen will look to have a breakout season with his new team in 2018 as part of a
very talented Seahawks D-line unit.

Blidi Wreh-Wilson CB, Atlanta Falcons
Wreh-Wilson was taken in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. He played three seasons with the Titans before being signed by the Falcons in 2016. During his time in Atlanta, Wreh-Wilson has been unable to achieve the same success he had in Tennessee. He has appeared in only nine games for the Falcons and has only three tackles.

Overall, he has 76 tackles, 15 passes defended, one interception and one forced fumble in 43 career games. Wreh-Wilson will need some injuries to take place in order to make a splash in 2018, as he is one of six cornerbacks on the Falcons’ roster.

Tim Boyle QB, Green Bay Packers

Boyle is here as an honorable mention, since he did not finish his college football career at UConn, but rather Eastern Kentucky. However, he did play three seasons for the Huskies before transferring. Born in Middlefield, he is a Connecticut native as well. Boyle was signed as an undrafted free agent this year and really impressed in the preseason. After trading away Brett
Hundley, the Packers decided to keep Boyle on the roster as their third-string quarterback, behind Aaron Rodgers and DeShone Kizer.

Now, here is a list of the UConn football alums who did not find themselves on a roster at the conclusion of the preseason:

Andrew Adams S, was cut by the New York Giants after playing there since 2016.

Alec Bloom TE, was cut by the Arizona Cardinals, who signed him as an undrafted free agent earlier this year.

Vontae Diggs LB, was one of the final cuts of the Washington Redskins after being signed as an undrafted free agent this year.

Junior Joseph LB, did not make the Cincinnati Bengals final roster as an undrafted rookie.

Andreas Knappe OT, was waived/injured by the Denver Broncos after being on three teams’ practice squads in 2017.

Obi Melifonwu S, was placed on Injured Reserve by the Oakland Raiders after clearing waivers. There is no timetable for the return of the 2017 second round pick.

Kendall Reyes DE, was released by the New York Jets. The 2012 second round pick hasn’t been able to find a home in the NFL since 2016 with the Chiefs.

Jamar Summers CB, was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers after signing as an undrafted free agent.

Nick Williams WR, was released by the Tennessee Titans. He has been in the league since 2013 and has played for the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons.

For the players that made teams, we at UConn hope they represent our school well with fantastic 2018 seasons. For the players that didn’t, hope is not lost, for they may catch on somewhere else either with a practice squad or, if they are lucky, an active roster. Either way, it’s definitely going to be exciting to see how the former Huskies perform on the big stage this season!

Danny Barletta is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached by email at daniel.barletta@uconn.edu.


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