C-USA Has Over 80 Players In NFL

IRVING, Texas – A total of 81 players from Conference USA schools appeared on the opening day rosters of NFL teams when the league opened its 89th season this past weekend. All 12 C-USA schools are represented, with at least four or more players appearing from 10 of the schools.

Marshall has eight players currently in the National Football League, as Jason Rader (Atlanta Falcons) and Doug Legursky (Pittsburgh Steelers) were cut in the final round. New England's and Marshall's Troy Brown retired this season after a MU-record 15 seasons in the NFL, all with the Patriots, passing Mike Bartrum (14 years, four teams including Pats and Eagles), NFL Hall of Fame member Frank "Gunner" Gatski (12 years, Browns and Lions) and Carl Lee (12 years, Vikes and Saints).

UCF has the most former players on current NFL rosters with 13, while Southern Miss has 11 and Houston has nine. Included are nine players that have made at least one Pro Bowl appearance in their careers, including Moss, who has multiple Pro Bowl selections with the Vikings, Raiders and Pats.

All but five NFL teams, the Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins, have at least one player from a Conference USA school. Marshall has had a player play for every current NFL franchise except the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans (formerly the Houston Oilers). Four teams, the Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders, have the most players from C-USA schools with five, while six different teams list four.

In addition to the players from C-USA schools, a quartet of NFL head coaches has ties to current league members. Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith, the 2005 NFL Coach of the Year, was a two-time All-American defensive back at Tulsa, while Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid, a two-time NFL Coach of the Year, served as an offensive line coach for three seasons at UTEP. Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips was a three-year starter at linebacker for the Houston Cougars and began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at UH, while Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin served as a graduate assistant at Memphis during C-USA's inaugural football season in 1996. The Herd has two former players coaching in the NFL. Larry Coyer, who played 1962-64 for MU, is assistant head coach with Tampa Bay. Chad O'Shea, who played two years at Marshall (1991-92) then two years at Houston (1994-95) is an assistant at Minnesota.

Here's a look at all of the C-USA players on opening day NFL rosters.

EAST CAROLINA PIRATES - 7/players
Aundrae Allison WR Minnesota Vikings
Terrance Copper WR New Orleans Saints
*Damane Duckett DL San Francisco 49ers
David Garrard QB Jacksonville Jaguars
Chris Johnson RB Tennessee Titans
Vonta Leach FB Houston Texans
*Guy Whimper OT New York Giants

HOUSTON COUGARS - 9/players and 2/coaches
*Anthony Alridge RB Denver Broncos
Donnie Avery WR St. Louis Rams
Jackie Battle RB Kansas City Chiefs
#Biren Ealy WR Tennessee Titans
Rex Hadnot OG Cleveland Browns
#Rodney Hannah TE Dallas Cowboys
Kevin Kolb QB Philadelphia Eagles
Brandon Middleton WR Detroit Lions
Chad O'Shea^ Assistant Coach Minnesota Vikings
Wade Phillips Head Coach Dallas Cowboys
Stanford Routt CB Oakland Raiders

MARSHALL THUNDERING HERD - 8/players and 2/coaches
Ahmad Bradshaw RB/KR New York Giants
Larry Coyer Assistant Head Coach Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chris Crocker FS Miami Dolphins
Chris Hanson P New England Patriots
Byron Leftwich QB Pittsburgh Steelers
Chris Massey LS/RB St. Louis Rams
Randy Moss WR New England Patriots
Chad O'Shea^ Assistant Coach Minnesota Vikings
Chad Pennington QB Miami Dolphins
John Wade C Oakland Raiders

MEMPHIS TIGERS - 8/players and 1/coach
Tony Brown DT Tennessee Titans
Isaac Bruce WR San Francisco 49ers
Stephen Gostkowski K New England Patriots
Artis Hicks OT Minnesota Vikings
Brandon McDonald DB Cleveland Browns
Mike McKenzie DB New Orleans Saints
Wade Smith OT Kansas City Chiefs
Mike Tomblin Head Coach Pittsburgh Steelers
DeAngelo Williams RB Carolina Panthers

RICE OWLS - 3/players
Larry Izzo LB New England Patriots
N.D. Kalu DE Houston Texans
Ryan Pontbriand LS Cleveland Browns

SMU MUSTANGS - 1/player
Justin Rogers LB Dallas Cowboys

SOUTHERN MISS GOLDEN EAGLES - 11/players
Michael Boley LB Atlanta Falcons
Jeremy Bridges OT Carolina Panthers
*Antoine Cash LB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
#Kevis Coley LB Houston Texans
Brett Favre QB New York Jets
*Robert Henderson DE New York Giants
#Jeremy Parquet OT Pittsburgh Steelers
#Brandon Sumrall DB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Patrick Surtain DB Kansas City Chiefs
Adalius Thomas DE/LB New England Patriots
Chris White C Houston Texans

TULANE GREEN WAVE - 4/players
Matt Forte' RB Chicago Bears
J.P. Losman QB Buffalo Bills
Mewelde Moore RB Pittsburgh Steelers
Patrick Ramsey QB Denver Broncos

TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE - 5/players and 1/coach
Chris Chamberlain LB St. Louis Rams
Gus Frerotte QB Minnesota Vikings
Garrett Mills FB Minnesota Vikings
Kevin Shaffer OL Cleveland Browns
Lovie Smith Head Coach Chicago Bears
#Paul Smith QB Jacksonville Jaguars

UAB BLAZERS - 4/players
#Darrell Hackney QB Denver Broncos
Bryan Thomas DE New York Jets
Roddy White WR Atlanta Falcons
#Julius Wilson OT Tampa Bay Buccaneers

UCF KNIGHTS - 13/players
Atari Bigby S Green Bay Packers
Travis Fisher CB Detroit Lions
Michael Gaines TE Detroit Lions
Cornell Green OT Oakland Raiders
Rashad Jeanty LB Cincinnati Bengals
Darcy Johnson TE New York Giants
Brandon Marshall WR Denver Broncos
*Mike Merritt TE Kansas City Chiefs
Matt Prater K Denver Broncos
Asante Samuel CB Philadelphia Eagles
Josh Sitton G Green Bay Packers
Kevin Smith RB Detroit Lions
Mike Walker WR Jacksonville Jaguars

UTEP MINERS - 8/players and 1/coach
Oniel Cousins OT Baltimore Ravens
Quintin Demps S Philadelphia Eagles
Jon Dorenbos LS Philadelphia Eagles
Johnnie Lee Higgins WR Oakland Raiders
Thomas Howard LB Oakland Raiders
Jordan Palmer QB Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Reid Head Coach Philadelphia Eagles
Marcus Thomas RB Detroit Lions
Brian Young DT New Orleans Saints

#practice squad * injured reserve ^O'Shea played two years at Marshall, then two years at Houston

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