Several former football players make it on 2018 NFL squads after final roster cuts

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D.J. Reed, then-sophomore defensive back, celebrates after a tackle against KU during the Wildcats game Nov. 26, 2016, at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The Cats won 34-19. (Archive photo by Evert Nelson | The Collegian)

The National Football League preseason has officially ended. On Saturday, teams had to cut their roster down to 53 players. It was a moment of great joy for those whose hard work paid off and are now NFL players, but also great disappointment for those who did not make the cut.

For 11 former Kansas State football players, Saturday was a reward for weeks of hard work.

Terence Newman

Just before the start of his 16th NFL season, Newman decided to retire on Saturday. Newman, who turns 40 years old today, will now join the Minnesota Vikings coaching staff as an assistant defensive backs coach.

Throughout Newman’s lengthy career that included stops with the Dallas Cowboys and the Cincinnati Bengals along with Minnesota, he made two Pro Bowls, amassed 748 tackles, grabbed 42 interceptions, scored four defensive touchdowns and had one punt return for a touchdown.

Darren Sproles

The 14-year running back remains with the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles after suffering a season-ending injury last year.

Sproles spent time with the San Diego — now Los Angeles — Chargers and the New Orleans Saints before coming to Philadelphia.

The shifty, five-foot-six, 190-pound running back has been defined as an all-purpose player. Sproles has 3,366 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns in his career. He has 4,656 yards and 81 touchdowns receiving. He is also a skilled return man, gaining 2,792 yards and seven touchdowns on punt returns and 8,350 yards and two touchdowns on kickoff returns.

Jordy Nelson

After spending his first 10 NFL seasons as a Green Bay Packer, Nelson is now an Oakland Raider.

Over the course of his career, Nelson has caught 550 passes for 7,848 yards and 69 touchdowns.

Nelson was part of the Green Bay team that won Super Bowl XLV in 2011. In that game, he caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown.

Emmanuel Lamur

Linebacker Emmanuel Lamur enters his seventh NFL season and joins Nelson as a member of the Raiders. This will be Lamur’s first season in Oakland, having spent four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and two with Minnesota.

Lamur has 180 combined tackles and two interceptions in his career.

Tyler Lockett

The wide receiver enters his fourth season, all as a member of the Seattle Seahawks. On Aug. 30, Lockett was rewarded with a new, three-year, $37 million ($20 million guaranteed) contract extension.

Lockett, like Sproles, is also a skilled all-purpose player. He has 1,816 yards and nine touchdowns receiving, 192 yards and a touchdown rushing, 859 yards and one touchdown on punt returns and 2,407 yards and two touchdowns on kick returns.

B.J. Finney and Cody Whitehair

Pittsburgh Steeler B.J. Finney and Chicago Bear Cody Whitehair, both offensive lineman, are entering their third seasons in the NFL.

Finney has played in 27 games, of which he has started seven. Whitehair has played in 32 career games, starting all of them.

Jordan Willis

In his 2017 rookie season, Willis played in 16 games at defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals, starting one game.

Willis has racked up 17 tackles and one sack in his young career. During the 2018 preseason, he had 10 combined tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Elijah Lee

The linebacker was drafted by Minnesota in the 2017 NFL Draft, winding up on its practice squad before landing with the San Francisco 49ers, where he still resides heading into his second NFL season.

In 14 games with San Francisco last season, Lee made four combined tackles. This preseason, he led the team with 17 combined tackles.

Deante Burton

Burton was a four-year wide receiver at K-State, but has found his place as a defensive back in the NFL. Burton has yet to see any regular season game action, as he heads into his second year on the practice squad for the Atlanta Falcons. He played in all four preseason games this year and obtained one tackle.

D.J. Reed

Reed is one of two Wildcat rookies in the NFL this season. He joins Lee in San Francisco, making the roster as a defensive back.

Reed made seven combined tackles during the preseason and returned three kickoffs for 85 yards, including one for 45 yards.

Byron Pringle

Pringle rounds out the 2018 roster of former Wildcats in the NFL.

After being signed by the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent, Pringle made the Kansas City roster by way of the Injured Reserve list.

During the preseason, Pringle caught six passes for 147 yards. Four of those receptions and 122 of his yards came in the final preseason game against Green Bay. He injured his hamstring in that game as well, which is what put him on IR.

Pringle showed a glimpse of his return abilities that he showcased as a Wildcat, returning one kickoff for 47 yards.

The NFL regular season will begin on Thursday with a matchup between Atlanta and Philadelphia. To see the full league schedule and keep track of when former Wildcats will be playing, visit espn.com/nfl/schedule.

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Jarrett Whitson
I’m Jarrett Whitson, the sports editor this semester. I’m from Blue Rapids, KS, a town of just over 1,000 people about 40 miles north of Manhattan. I’m a junior in Public Relations, and a member of FarmHouse Fraternity. I love playing and talking about sports— especially college football