Michigan State represents very well when it comes to active players in the NFL.
Quick – take a guess at how many Michigan State Spartans are currently active players in the NFL.
If I tell you that at the beginning of the 2017 NFL season, not surprisingly, an SEC school (LSU) had the most active players in the NFL with 51, what would your guess be at the number of active Spartans in the NFL?
If I tell you that Ohio State had 45 active players in the NFL, how would that impact your guess as to the number of active Spartans in the NFL at the start of the 2017 season?
Before the start of the 2017 NFL season, there were 29 former Spartans who were active players on NFL rosters.
Below, you’ll see a fancy and colorful chart/graph/thing that NCAA.com created in a piece they published in September of 2017 that showcased the college football programs with the most active players in the NFL.
As one examines that fancy and colorful chart/graph/thing (laid on the bed of a football-field-graphical-backdrop), one sees that the juggernauts make up the Top Ten when it comes to this listing.
These juggernauts are, mostly, the schools that have spent the majority of the last few decades raising trophies while having their pick of the litter regarding in-state talent that has allowed them to haul in top ten recruiting classes.
Depending on whose eyes are looking at this list, those eyes could see the Blue Bloods of college football.
But back to Michigan State.
What was the number that immediately came into your mind when thinking about how many Spartans are active players in the NFL?
Prior to the 2017 season, the number was a very stout 29.
When the 2018 season starts, that number will be 30.
Take a look at the list as it exists right now (pulled from ESPN.com) right after the conclusion of the 2018 NFL Draft –
Yeah, Josiah Price is an NFL tight end.
And, yeah, Bennie Fowler is an NFL receiver.
And, yeah, Marcus Rush is an NFL linebacker who played defensive end as a Spartan.
And, yeah, Riley Bullough is an NFL linebacker.
And, yeah, Demetrious Cox is an NFL safety.
How is the overall status of a college football program truly measured?
Of course, championships must be won.
The bluest of the Blue Bloods, correctly, see the National Championship as the truest metric when it comes to finding the ultimate measurement of programs across the sport.
But for most programs, there are plenty of other elements that factor into the equation.
Victories over rivals (real and imagined).
And players who go on to have successful careers in the NFL.
By these undeniable measurements, Michigan State measures up.
Spartans have the necessary self awareness to know that it’d be silly to claim that the program is on equal footing with Alabama, Oklahoma, USC, or Florida State.
But when it comes to just about all of the other programs on the list presented in the NCAA.com piece below, Michigan State isn’t going to cower and acquiesce.
Those “other” programs might dismiss the notion that Michigan State measures up.
But that’s their problem, not Michigan State’s.
The amount of Spartans that are active members of a roster in the NFL isn’t a manufactured number.
And a year from now, there will be at least a dozen more Spartans who will be on all of the NFL Draft boards.
When it comes to sending players to the NFL, Michigan State stands tall.
Check out the NCAA.com piece and see for yourself…..
Colleges most represented on 2017 NFL Opening Day rosters
Some 285 schools, from all levels of college football, are represented on NFL rosters for Opening Day 2017. Here are the top five schools with players in the NFL:
(Our list includes players on active rosters, injury reserved lists, practice squads and the commissioner’s exempt list). This list was updated from the initial published date to relfect a change for Louisiana State.
1. LSU: 51 — The Tigers are the lone program to reach the 50-player mark. Although LSU hasn’t fulfilled its national championship aspirations in 10 seasons, a lot of talent comes through Baton Rouge, and purple and yellow still runs deep in the NFL. LSU has produced elite talent on both ends of the ball with the likes of defensive backs Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu (Arizona Cardinals), as well as star wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. (New York Giants) and Jarvis Landry (Miami Dolphins). Look for rookies Jamal Adams (New York Jets) and Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville Jaguars) to make immediate impacts as well this season.
T-2. Florida: 45 — The Gators snag a tie for second on this list with a mix of key members from Florida’s national championship teams in 2006 and 2008 as well as a bunch of newcomers. Joe Haden (Pittsburgh Steelers), Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh Steelers) and his brother Mike (Miami Dolphins) were members of the Tim Tebow era while young stars like Mike Gillislee (New England Patriots), Vernon Hargreaves II (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Jordan Reed (Washington Redskins) have developed into solid players at the next level.
T-2. USC: 45 — For the better part of the 2000s, USC has been a major player in college football, so it’s no surprise that the Trojans have deep roots in the NFL. 2002 Heisman Trophy winnerCarson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals) is still one of the league’s top quarterbacks, while Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers) and Brian Cushing (Houston Texans) have become cornerstones in their respected defenses. Dallas Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith, who’s arguably the best lineman in the NFL right now, anchored the Trojans line in 2009 and 2010.
T-4. Alabama: 44 — Though Alabama might not have the most players on NFL rosters, there’s no doubt that coach Nick Saban has produced some of football’s brightest young stars. Amari Cooper (Oakland Raiders), Landon Collins (New York Giants), Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons) and Don’t’a Hightower (New England Patriots) have already emerged as top players at their respected positions and were all part of the Crimson’s Tide’s run of of four national championships in eight seasons. In this year’s NFL draft, Alabama produced four first-round picks and nine of the top 100.
T-4. Miami (Fla.): 44 — The Hurricanes haven’t been quite the same national championship contenders like they were at the turn of the century, but Miami still has talent scattered up and down NFL rosters. The Canes have produced offensive standouts like Greg Olsen (Carolina Panthers) and Lamar Miller (Houston Texans) while veterans Frank Gore (Indianapolis Colts) and Jimmy Graham (Seattle Seahawks) continue to produce in their respected systems. Olivier Vernon has emerged as a standout defensive end for the New York Giants while 2015 first round pick Phillip Dorsett is looking to make an impact on the New England Patriots.Below is a breakdown of all colleges represented in the NFL on opening day rosters:
|San Diego State||11|
|San Jose State||9|
|North Dakota State||7|
|Middle Tennessee State||5|
|South Carolina State||5|
|Grand Valley State||4|
|Missouri Western State||3|
|South Dakota State||3|
|West Texas A&M||3|
|William & Mary||3|
|East Central (OK.)||2|
|Missouri Southern State||2|
|New Mexico State||2|
|North Carolina A&T||2|
|Northwestern State (LA.)||2|
|Saginaw Valley State||2|
|Sam Houston State||2|
|Albany State (Ga.)||1|
|Army West Point||1|
|Fort Valley State||1|
|Incarnate World (Tex.)||1|
|North Carolina Central||1|
|Northeast Mississippi CC||1|
|Northwest Missouri State||1|
|Red Lion Christian Academy||1|
|Southeast Missouri State||1|
|Southern Connecticut State||1|
|St. Francis (PA)||1|
|Western State (CO.)||1|