With the 2017 NFL free agency underway there have been quite a few former G5 players on the move. Here’s the latest on where our Underdogs are headed in their NFL career.
Brandon Marshall (WR) - UCF Knights
Brandon Marshall is coming in to his 12th year in the NFL. Many UCF fans will remember Marshall for his senior year at Central Florida when he finished the season with 74 receptions (3rd in C-USA), 1,195 yards (2nd in C-USA and 10th in NCAA), and 11 touchdowns (1st in C-USA).
Marshall has had an impressive run in the pros as well, having eight seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving in his eleven year career. Marshall was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the fourth round of the 2006 draft and finished his four year career as a Bronco with 327 catches for 4,019 yards and 25 touchdowns as well as 16 carries for 104 yards on the ground.
Marshall was traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2010 and, before being traded again in 2012, was able to add 167 catches for 2,228 yards and nine touchdowns as well as three carries for 16 yards on the ground. In 2012, however, Marshall was traded to the Chicago Bears to be reunited with, former Denver quarterback, Jay Cutler. Marshall finished his three years as a Bear with 279 catches for 3,524 yards and 31 touchdowns.
2015 brought another trade for Brandon Marshall as the receiver was sent to the New York Jets. Marshall was an instant favorite target for Ryan Fitzpatrick and led the team in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns in his first year with the Jets. 2016, however, there was no consistency at the quarterback position and Marshall was limited because of it. Marshall finished his time with the Jets with 168 catches for 2,290 yards and 17 touchdowns before being granted his release from the team.
The veteran receiver will stay in New York next season, however, he won’t be playing for the Jets any longer as he has signed a two year deal with the Giants to play alongside Odell Beckham Jr. Marshall currently has 941 receptions for 12,061 yards and 82 touchdowns.
A.J. Bouye (CB) - UCF Knights
Bouye is coming in to his fifth year in the NFL and was highly sought after in this years free agency. Bouye had a solid career with the UCF Knights finishing his four years with 110 tackles (five for loss), one sack, and six interceptions for 180 yards and two touchdowns. As good as Bouye was, the 2013 NFL Draft didn’t see his name get called but the Houston Texans decided to take a chance on him as an undrafted free agent.
Bouye didn’t have many opportunities to shine in his rookie season but from his second year on, he made his presence felt. In his four years with Houston, A.J. has 140 tackles, a sack, 32 pass deflections, and six interceptions for 129 yards and a touchdown. Houston was unable to re-sign Bouye (for whatever reason) and he will be taking his talents to the division rival Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017 after signing a five year deal.
Terrell McClain (DT) - USF Bulls
Terrell McClain is coming in to his seventh year in the NFL and things haven’t been easy for him during his time in the league. McClain had an impressive career with the South Florida Bulls, finishing his four year career with 88 tackles (17 for loss), seven and a half sacks, a pass deflection, and two forced fumbles. McClain was rewarded for his success in college by being selected in the third round of the 2011 Draft by the Carolina Panthers.
Terrell’s rookie season looked promising as he was able to start 12 games, registering 19 tackles and a sack before a knee injury landed him on the injured reserve list. After being released the next season, McClain found himself in New England with the Patriots only to be active for one game and waived a week later. McClain spent the end of his 2012 season, as well as his 2013 season, with the Houston Texans where, although he never started, he played in 19 games and had ten tackles.
In 2014, McClain signed with the Dallas Cowboys and battled a high ankle sprain for most of the season, finishing with 19 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. 2015 looked to be a breakout year for McClain but he suffered some hamstring injuries and after just two games, was placed on the injured reserve list with a toe injury. 2016 was the breakout year Terrell McClain had been waiting for, finishing the season with, a career high, 40 tackles, two and a half sacks, and two forced fumbles. Dallas, however, was unable to retain McClain and he will play for the division rival Washington Redskins next season after signing a four year contract.
Johnathan Cyprien (SS) - FIU Golden Panthers
This will be Cyprien’s fifth season in the NFL and he’s coming off of his best season, statistically. Florida International fans shouldn’t be surprised at Cyprien’s success after his four years as a Golden Panther. Cyprien was one of those players who was talented enough to come in as a freshman, rather than redshirt, and play all four seasons at FIU.
During his career with FIU, Johnathan Cyprien was impressive from the beginning and finished with 365 tackles (13.5 for loss), a sack, and seven interceptions for 41 yards and a touchdown. Cyprien’s efforts almost saw him go in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft but he ended up being the first pick in the second round by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Cyprien struggled some in his rookie season and has missed a handful of games to injury but, in his four years with Jacksonville, Johnathan Cyprien has 453 tackles, two sacks, 15 pass deflections, two interceptions for 75 yards, and four forced fumbles. Although Jacksonville has been very active in free agency, they did not manage to re-sign Cyprien and he will be taking his talents to the division rival Tennessee Titans after signing a four year deal.
Mike Tolbert (FB) - Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
Mike Tolbert is ENTERINGhis tenth season in the NFL and has been a solid fullback in his nine year career. Tolbert was a solid back for the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, playing in all four years and racking up 1,612 rushing yards on 266 carries and 20 touchdowns. Tolbert also showed his ability to add to the receiving game by catching 25 passes for 276 yards and a touchdown during his career as a Chanticleer.
Fullbacks don’t always necessarily get much love on draft day and when they do, it’s almost guaranteed to be a later round. 2008 saw four fullbacks get drafted but Tolbert was not one of them. He ended up in San Diego as an undrafted free agent where he spent four years and accumulated 1,410 yards rushing on 341 carries and 20 touchdowns. Tolbert also had 109 catches for 1,012 yards and six touchdowns.
Tolbert signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2012 and spent the next five seasons with them. During his time with Carolina, Tolbert added 992 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 289 carries and caught 94 passes for 771 yards and six touchdowns. Tolbert was also a big contributor to the Panthers (almost) undefeated season in 2015 that led to an eventual Super Bowl loss to the Broncos. Carolina decided to move on from Tolbert and he will bring his talent to the Buffalo Bills next season, where he will more than likely play running back, after signing a one-year deal.
Don Jones (CB) - Arkansas State Red Wolves
Don Jones is coming in to his fifth season in what’s been a relatively quiet NFL career. Arkansas State fans should remember Don Jones for his time with the Red Wolves, mainly as a punt returner where, in his junior year, he led the Sun Belt (second in the NCAA) with two punt returns for touchdowns.
During his time with Arkansas State, Jones spent his freshman season as a running back, rushing for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries while also catching 12 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Jones transferred to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College for his sophomore season and made the transition to safety. In his junior year, Jones returned to Arkansas State as a safety and finished his career with 129 tackles (12 for loss), a sack, and two interceptions for 29 yards which caught the eyes of the Miami Dolphins, who drafted Jones in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
During his rookie year with the Dolphins, Don Jones had ten tackles and a forced fumble but some controversial tweets led to suspension and eventually being waived by Miami. The Patriots claimed Jones off of waivers in 2014 where he added six tackles before being waived on Thanksgiving Day. The next day, however, Don Jones found himself back with the Dolphins where he finished the season with just five tackles.
From 2015 to 2016, Jones played for the Cleveland Browns, gaining just six tackles, and finished 2016 with the Texans where he added eleven tackles. Don Jones will look to finally find some solid ground in his career in 2017 after signing a two-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers.
Aldrick Robinson (WR) - SMU Mustangs
Aldrick Robinson is coming in to his seventh year which, although it started off slow, appears to be looking up for the young receiver. Anyone familiar with Southern Methodist University, or even the C-USA conference in general, should remember Robinson’s name. Robinson played in all four years as a Mustang and finished his college career with 181 receptions for 3,314 yards and 30 touchdowns.
His most memorable season was his senior year with SMU where he caught 65 passes for 1,301 yards (first in C-USA, eighth in NCAA) and 14 touchdowns (first in C-USA, fourth in NCAA). Robinson played well enough to hear his name called at the 2011 NFL Draft when the Washington Redskins picked him in the sixth round.
Robinson spent his rookie season on the practice squad but managed to play in most of 2012 with Washington, even starting two games, where he caught 11 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns, as well as carrying the ball once for 14 yards rushing. 2013 brought even more success as the receiver caught 18 passes for 365 yards and two touchdowns but in 2014, after catching only one pass for six yards, he was released by the team.
Robinson was placed on Baltimore’s practice squad in 2015 but was released before the regular season started and was not picked up by any other team until the Atlanta Falcons signed him in 2016. Aldrick Robinson found tremendous success in Kyle Shanahan’s offense because it was built on speed and Robinson had plenty of that. Robinson caught a career high 20 passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns for the NFC champion Falcons and will get a chance to continue under, now head coach, Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco next season after signing a two year contract.
Kelvin Beachum (OT) - SMU Mustangs
Kelvin Beachum is coming in to his sixth season in the NFL and is looking to redeem himself after a somewhat disappointing 2016 season. Beachum was a four year starter at Southern Methodist University as their left offensive tackle. Beachum gained plenty of recognition as a Mustang, garnering second team C-USA honors his sophomore year and first team C-USA honors in his junior year.
Beachum was an integral part of some SMU record breaking offenses and his success at the college level earned him a spot in the 2012 NFL Draft as he was drafted in the seventh round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. In his rookie season, as a third string tackle, Beachum was able to play in seven games and start in five as the starting tackle, as well as the backup tackle, sustained injuries. Beachum was named the backup tackle in 2013 but would end up being named the starter, finishing with 12 starts for the season.
2014 was the breakout year for Kelvin Beachum. He earned a starting position and started all 16 games for the Steelers, finishing the season ranked third in pass blocking efficiency by Pro Football Focus. Beachum turned down a contract extension, feeling he could increase his value in 2015 but, after only six games, his season was cut short by an ACL tear.
In 2015, Jacksonville decided to take a chance on a one-year deal for Beachum as their starting left tackle. Beachum started in 15 games, missing one due to concussion protocol, and finished the season with 49 quarterback pressures allowed. After a disappointing return in Jacksonville, Beachum became a free agent and will now look to redeem himself in New York, playing for the Jets in 2017 after signing a three-year deal.
Nate Allen (FS) - USF Bulls
Nate Allen is coming in to his seventh season in the NFL and is looking to add to his already impressive career so far. Nate Allen was a huge contributor to the South Florida defense in his four years as a Bull and helped lead the team to three bowl victories. Allen finished his college career with 226 tackles (five for loss), a sack, and nine interceptions for 139 yards and a touchdown.
Allen’s success with USF led to his name being called in the 2010 NFL Draft as the Philadelphia Eagles picked him early in the second round. Nate Allen spent five seasons with the Eagles and finished with 324 tackles, four sacks, 29 pass deflections, ten interceptions for 159 yards and three forced fumbles. For some reason, after leading the team in interceptions (four), the Eagles did not re-sign Allen and he ended up signing with the Oakland Raiders.
A torn MCL sidelined Nate Allen for most of the 2015 season, limiting him to only being able to play in five games where he had 11 tackles, two pass deflections and an interception for five yards. Oakland re-signed Allen for the 2016 season and he finished the season with 33 tackles, three pass deflections, and two interceptions for five yards. Nate Allen looks to find success in a new home in 2017 and will play for the Miami Dolphins next season after signing a one-year deal.
Brynden Trawick (FS) - Troy Trojans
Brynden Trawick is coming in to his fifth season in the NFL. Trawick was originally committed to Michigan State but didn’t see the field much as a Spartan and, after being suspended from MSU, he transferred to Northeast Mississippi Community College before eventually transferring to Troy for his junior season.
Once he made it to Troy, Trawick immediately became a force for the Trojans, leading the Sun Belt in tackles (143) and finishing sixth in the NCAA with 75 solo tackles in his first year as a Trojan. Trawick finished his two year career at Troy with 206 tackles (seven and a half for loss), a sack, three interceptions for 123 yards and a touchdown, two pass deflections, and a forced fumble.
Trawick was not drafted but did end up with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2013. Trawick only started one game in his three years with the Ravens but managed to accumulate 30 tackles, and a pass deflection in those three years. Trawick signed with Oakland in 2016 and, while he never got a start, he had a career best 24 tackles, a pass deflection, and his first NFL interception as a Raider.
Trawick will look to continue where he left off in 2016, and hopefully even earn some starts in 2017, as he signed a two-year deal with the Tennessee Titans.
Ronald Leary (OG) - Memphis Tigers
Ronald Leary is coming in to his sixth season in the NFL and has been a part of a highly regarded offensive line. Leary showed extreme strength and determination during his time in Memphis along with versatility, switching from right to left tackle and eventually making the switch to right guard in his senior year. Leary had surgery in the spring of his senior year and yet managed to play in every game, finishing with second team all C-USA honors and sharing team MVP honors with Dontari Poe.
Although many experts believed Leary would go somewhere in the third round of the 2012 Draft, no one picked him because of a joint disorder in his left knee that many feared would cut his career short. Leary eventually landed in Dallas as an undrafted free agent where he spent his rookie season on the practice squad. Even after having surgery on his right knee during the preseason of his second year, Leary showed his toughness again by coming back strong and starting in all 16 games as Dallas’ left guard.
Leary continued to show dominance in 2014 after keeping, defensive player of the year, JJ Watt in check during their game against Houston and finishing the season as a part of arguably the best offensive line in the League. A groin injury hindered Leary’s play in 2015 to just four games and, although he tried to return as fast as possible, his injury eventually led to him being replaced by La'el Collins for the remainder of the season.
In 2016, an injury to La’el Collins brought Leary back to his starting left guard position and the Cowboys dominated on the offensive line, helping the rookie running back, Ezekiel Elliot, earn the NFL rushing title. Leary will look to add strength to a struggling offensive line in 2017 after signing a three-year deal with the Denver Broncos.
D.J. Hayden (CB) - Houston Cougars
D.J. Hayden is coming in to his fifth season in the NFL and has had some success in his first four years. Hayden started his college career as a junior college athlete at Navarro College where he spent his freshman and sophomore years. After helping his team win the NJCAA National Championship in his sophomore year, Hayden transferred to the University of Houston.
Hayden immediately became a force on the Cougar defense finishing his junior year with 66 tackles (eight for loss), a sack, two interceptions for 58 yards and a touchdown, 11 pass deflections, and a team high five forced fumbles (second in C-USA, eighth in NCAA). Hayden started his first nine games of his senior season in top form with 61 tackles (one and a half for loss), and four interceptions for 171 yards and two touchdowns.
During a practice before his tenth game, Hayden suffered a season ending, and life threatening, injury to his heart after colliding with a safety during a passing drill. Even with the injury, Hayden was selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. D.J. Hayden started his rookie season off to a somewhat slow start but played in eight games (starting in two) and contributed 25 tackles, two pass deflections, an interception, and a forced fumble.
Hayden continued to improve over the next three years, finishing his four year career with Oakland with 179 tackles, a sack, 26 pass deflections, three interceptions, and three forced fumbles before being placed on injured reserve late in 2016 with a hamstring injury. D.J. Hayden will look to bounce back in 2017 and return to his shutdown corner status after signing a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions.
Dontari Poe (DT) - Memphis Tigers
Dontari Poe is coming in to his sixth season in the NFL in what has been an incredible career so far. Poe has been a force of nature on the defensive front ever since his days as a Memphis Tiger. Starting with his freshman year, Poe finished with 27 tackles (seven for loss), two sacks, and three forced fumbles. Poe finished his career at Memphis with a total of 101 tackles (21.5 for loss), five sacks, four pass deflections, and four forced fumbles. Poe decided to forego his senior year and entered the NFL Draft in 2012.
A solid college career, along with an impressive combine, led to Dontari Poe being selected in the first round of the 2012 Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs at number 11. Poe was one of those rare breeds that had no trouble transitioning to the professional level and was able to earn the starting defensive tackle position before his rookie season even started. During his five years with the Chiefs, Poe finished with 200 tackles, 13 sacks, 12 pass deflections, and two forced fumbles.
Along with his defensive dominance, in 2015 Poe became the largest NFL player to rush for a touchdown on a one yard rush and, in 2016, Poe rushed for another one yard touchdown and threw a one yard touchdown to become the largest NFL player to ever throw a touchdown. Kansas City was unable to re-sign Poe, however, and he will play for the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons in 2017 after signing a one-year deal.
Latavius Murray (RB) - UCF Knights
This will be Latavius Murray’s fifth year in the NFL and he’s had some success in Oakland so far. Murray started out slow for the UCF Knights finishing with 46 carries for 132 yards and three touchdowns in his freshman year as well as one pass caught for four yards. Things picked up for Murray from then on, however, as he finished his four year career with UCF with 453 carries for 2,424 yards and 37 touchdowns as well as 50 receptions for 524 yards and six touchdowns and three kick returns for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Murray finished second in the C-USA in rushing touchdowns twice (sophomore and senior year) and finished third in the C-USA in rushing yards his senior year. Although he did not receive an invite to the combine, Latavius Murray had an impressive pro day and earned a spot in the 2013 Draft as the Oakland Raiders selected him in the sixth round.
Murray missed his rookie season due to injury and spent the majority of his second season behind Darren McFadden. In 2015, however, McFadden ended up in Dallas and Latavius Murray earned the role of starting running back for the Raiders under, new head coach, Jack Del Rio and behind the rookie quarterback, Derek Carr. Murray finished his four years with Oakland with 543 carries for 2,278 yards and 20 touchdowns, as well as 91 receptions for 639 yards.
Murray became a free agent in 2017 and will be taking his talents to the Minnesota Vikings on a three-year deal to try and fill the shoes Adrian Peterson has left.
Kayvon Webster (CB) - USF Bulls
This will be Kayvon Webster’s fifth year in the NFL and he already has one Super Bowl ring in that time. Webster was a four year starter for the South Florida Bulls and had a decent career during his time there. Webster finished his career at USF with 190 tackles (eight and a half for loss), two sacks, and three interceptions for 34 yards. Webster also returned kicks in his freshman, junior, and senior seasons finishing with seven returns for 102 yards.
Along with his time at USF, Kayvon Webster impressed scouts at the NFL Combine and was selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. Webster spent most of his four years in Denver as a special teams player, as well as a situational guy for the already incredible defense. Although he wasn’t an integral part of the Super Bowl winning defense, Webster did get to play in the Super Bowl, as well as every post season game, on special teams.
Webster finished his four years with Denver with 83 tackles, 14 pass deflections, and an interception. Webster will be looking for a chance to improve next season as the new corner for the Los Angeles Rams after signing a two-year deal.
Lance Dunbar (RB) - North Texas Mean Green
Lance Dunbar is coming in to his sixth season in the NFL where he has been a pretty solid contributor for the Dallas offense. Dunbar wasn’t an immediate starter at the University of North Texas, but once he became their starting back, there was no turning back for him.
After only carrying the ball 39 times for 178 yards and a touchdown, as well as catching 12 passes for 51 yards and a touchdown in his freshman year, Dunbar exploded onto the scene in his sophomore year. Dunbar finished his sophomore year with the Mean Green with 200 carries for 1,378 yards (second in the Sun Belt) and 17 touchdowns (first in the Sun Belt), as well as 28 receptions for 300 yards and two touchdowns, finishing with 1,678 yards from scrimmage (first in the Sun Belt) and 19 touchdowns from scrimmage (first in the Sun Belt, ninth in the NCAA).
Dunbar only got better with time and finished his career with UNT with 782 carries (Second most in UNT history) for 4,224 yards (Most in UNT history) and 41 touchdowns (Most in UNT history) along with 97 receptions for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns. Dunbar’s 5,375 all purpose yards and 49 all purpose touchdowns are both school records for UNT and he became the first running back in school history to have three consecutive seasons with 1,000 yards rushing.
Although he had quite an impressive college career, he was passed over in the 2012 NFL Draft and ended up signing with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. After spending the first part of his rookie season on the practice squad, Dunbar was activated to the 53 man roster for 12 games, mostly for special teams, but managed to carry the ball 21 times for 75 yards and catch six passes for 33 yards.
Dunbar showed promise in his second year with Dallas, rushing for 150 yards on 30 carries and catching seven passes for 59 yards but it wasn’t until the 2014 season that Dunbar started seeing some quality playing time, playing in all 16 games and contributing 18 catches for 217 yards and 29 carries for 99 yards. Competing with Demarco Murray and Darren McFadden were no easy tasks for Dunbar and some fumble issues didn’t help his cause much for seeing more playing time.
2015 looked very promising for Dunbar as he continued where he left off in the passing game, catching 21 passes for 215 yards and also running the ball five times for 67 yards in his first four games. His season was cut short, however, after sustaining a knee injury on a kickoff return, sidelining him for the remainder of the season.
Dunbar was limited in his 2016 season with Dallas, mainly because of the emergence of rookie sensation, Ezekiel Elliot, and the addition of Alfred Morris, but also because of complications from his knee injury. Dunbar did manage to get his first career rushing touchdown, however, and finished his five years with Dallas with 94 carries for 422 yards and a touchdown, as well as 68 receptions for 646 yards. Dunbar will head to Los Angeles to play for the Rams in 2017, signing a one-year deal to help out with a struggling offense.