When I started Wave The Red Towel about three years ago now, one of the things I wanted to do was keep up with/cover/update WKU fans about those former athletes that have gone on to play professionally, no matter the sport. Well, how lucky for we Topper faithful, as the football program under Willie Taggart/Bobby Petrino/Jeff Brohm has taken off, so has the amount of talent in the NFL.
As we head into the first week of the preseason, we find a handful of ProToppers looking to simply make the 53-man roster or land on a practice squad, while we see others trying to prove to their teams that they're worth more playing time. Oh, and a couple are looking for jobs.
So, without further adieu, here is the 2015 season's first installment of my favorite piece to write, the ProToppers Primer.
Mitchell Henry - Green Bay @ New England (Thurs, 6:30 CT)
Mr. Mitchell is one of those guys who is simply trying to land a job come the end of the preseason, and as an undrafted free agent, he certainly has his work cut out for him. He's been doing a lot in Wisconsin during the off season - he participated in a Packers' softball Home Run Derby type of deal back in July and made Packers' beat writers buzz on twitter over some spectacular catch, so he has that going for him, but he has a long way to go on the field. He's officially listed as "Other" on the Packers.com depth chart (that is, not a first, second or third stringer) and will have to somehow out-battle not only Richard Rodgers (TE1), Andrew Quarless (TE2) and Justin Perillo (TE3), but fellow "Other" TE's Kennard Backman and Harold Spears. The Patriots prove to be the first test in Henry's pro career.
Cameron Clemmons - San Diego vs. Dallas (Thurs, 9:00 CT)
Clemmons was also taken as an undrafted free agent this past year, and that's about all the info available on him right now. He hasn't had the buzz a guy like Henry has had before camp started but is probably just as long a shot, if not longer, to make a roster. Hopefully he has a good showing against a very good O-Line in Dallas.
Antonio Andrews - Tennessee @ Atlanta (Friday, 6:00 CT)
Arguably the man of the preseason when it comes to ProToppers. Titans fans were clamoring for A.A. at the tail end of last year, as they were sick of waiting for Bishop Sankey to explode into the start, and everything you hear out of Titans camp is nothing but praise for Andrews. He's been featured on the Titans' website, on Fox Sports' website and, hell, he even got a USA Today blurb about a potential fantasy impact. That's cool, right? Heading into Friday's matchup with the Dirty Birds, A.A. is listed as RB3 behind Dexter McCluster and Sankey, but a couple good games could change that reaaal quick.
Cam Thomas - Buffalo vs. Carolina (Friday, 6:00 CT)
Cam Thomas would be gearing up for his first professional game, except he hasn't participated in camp because he's on the Physically Unable to Perform List. So...yeah, that's where that stands.
Jonathan Dowling - Oakland vs. St. Louis (Friday, 9:00 CT)
J-Dowl has had a very quiet off season, but he's still with the Raiders and had this neat little write up about him from Bleacher Report. Dowling is currently listed as the third free safety in Oakland, and the preseason is going to be an awesome opportunity for the Raiders to throw Dowling a bone and get him some more snaps. At least, one would think.
Bobby Rainey - Tampa Bay @ Minnesota (Saturday, 7:00 CT)
You've heard a lot about the Bucs' this off season, but probably not a whole lot about Bobby Rainey. And that's okay, because there really isn't much that has been talked about. Except this piece by Bucs Nation, which says Rainey is the best back in Tampa, which lets be real, I'm not going to debate. Rainey is listed behind Doug Martin and Charles Sims, but I'd be surprised if the starting job isn't a revolving door like it was last year. If only Rainey didn't fumble so freaking much, he'd be the starter and the world would be a slightly better place.
Jack Doyle - Indianapolis @ Philadelphia (Sunday, 12:00 CT)
Man oh man, do they love them some Jack Doyle up in Indianapolis. And, seriously, what isn't there to love? And, some good news, Doyle has jumped up to the second-string tight end! Only thing standing in his way is TE1, Dwayne Allen. Since he first got regular-ish playing time, Doyle has been used in the I-formation as the H-back to block and on special teams for similar purposes. I'm expecting both to continue this year, but it'll be fun to see if he gets a lot of receiving opportunities in the preseason.
As we begin the 2015 presason, we are a couple of ProToppers short, as Andrew Jackson and Quanterus Smith looking for teams to play for, after being released by the Colts and Broncos, respectively, in the off season.
If you are able to watch these games and want to update us all on how the ProToppers are doing, use the hashtag #ProToppers on twitter.