As the NFL season kicks off today (okay, okay, it kicked off Thursday night, but today’s the real opening day) we take stock of which former Vanderbilt players are in the league. There was a time within the memory of at least some of us that we’d have maybe one or two former players to track (hi, Jay Cutler), but no longer. Today, the NFL season will kick off with eight former Vanderbilt Commodores on NFL rosters.
San Diego Los Angeles Chargers: I am still having difficulty adjusting to this whole “Los Angeles Chargers” thing, but Hayward is now the lone former Bobby Johnson recruit playing in the league (okay, that’s a technicality for reasons that we’ll get to in a minute.) Last year, he was named to the All-Pro team for the second year in a row.
Stephen Weatherly, Minnesota Vikings: Weatherly is now in his third season with the Vikings and played in fifteen games last year as a reserve defensive lineman, making seven total tackles.
Spencer Pulley, New York Giants: Somewhat surprisingly, Pulley was waived by the Chargers last week after starting all 16 games last season, but was picked up off waivers by the Giants and will now likely be a reserve offensive lineman in New York.
Zach Cunningham, Houston Texans: The star of Vanderbilt’s 2016 defense, Cunningham started 13 games as a rookie for the Texans last year and is expected to be a starter for the team again in his second year in the league.
Adam Butler, New England Patriots: Butler was undrafted in 2017, but that didn’t stop him from not only making the Patriots’ squad last year, but also becoming a valuable reserve defensive lineman and also starting six games.
Oren Burks, Green Bay Packers: Burks, the lone member of last year’s team to be drafted, might miss the Packers’ season opener with a shoulder injury but should find his way into a role once healthy.
Trent Sherfield, Arizona Cardinals: A good preseason landed Sherfield on the Cardinals’ 53-man roster after going undrafted in April.
Tre Herndon, Jacksonville Jaguars: Like Sherfield, Herndon went from undrafted free agent to 53-man roster in the preseason.
And let’s not forget Andre Hal, who is currently on the Houston Texans’ reserve/non-football injury list as he battles lymphoma.
One name that we’re leaving off: Will Holden, who was a fifth-round draft pick in 2017, was released by the Arizona Cardinals last week.