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It's not easy making a 53-man NFL roster as an undrafted free agent, but three local college football players have defied the odds.
Former Utah State standout linebacker Zach Vigil went undrafted in last April's NFL draft. But his dream of playing pro football will continue as a member of the Miami Dolphins after NFL teams announced their 53-man rosters Saturday.
Vigil joins eight other Aggies on NFL rosters ahead of Thursday's opener. Vigil is only the second Utah State linebacker currently in the league, alongside Seattle Seahawks standout Bobby Wagner, though reports indicate he will likely see most of his time with the Dolphins on special teams.
Uani' Unga made the New York Giants' roster as a linebacker, and fellow former BYU linebacker Alani Fu'a has been named to the Arizona Cardinals final roster. The duo join six other former Cougars in the NFL.
Utah is represented by 23 players in the NFL this season as of the current roster cut deadline. Newly drafted tackle Jeremiah Poutasi will join his Tennessee Titans teammates this year, as well as a bounty of former Utes plying their trade on Sundays. Kansas City's Alex Smith and San Diego's Eric Weddle lead the old guard of Utes, who will see competition against fellow Utah graduates like Cleveland's Nate Orchard, New York's Trevor Reilly and Philadelphia's Eric Rowe, among others.
Several former local standouts also signed practice squad deals with a variety of teams. Ex-Ute Brian Blechen has gone to the Carolina Panthers, former Cougar De'Ondre Wesley signed with the Ravens, and recent Utah graduate Kaelin Clay joined Tampa Bay. Sam Brenner has made the practice squad with the Dolphins and Paul Lasike bounced back from getting cut by Arizona to sign with Chicago's practice squad.
Here is the full list of former local football players to watch in the NFL this year.
Locals on NFL rosters
|Ezekiel Ansah||Detroit Lions||DE||BYU|
|John Denney||Miami Dolphins||LS||BYU|
|Alani Fua||Arizona Cardinals||LB||BYU|
|Dennis Pitta||Baltimore Ravens||TE||BYU|
|Dallas Reynolds||New York Giants||OL||BYU|
|Daniel Sorensen||Kansas City Chiefs||DB||BYU|
|Uani' Unga||New York Giants||LB||BYU|
|Kyle Van Noy||Detroit Lions||LB||BYU|
|Dres Anderson||San Francisco 49ers||WR||Utah|
|Matt Asiata||Minnesota Vikings||RB||Utah|
|Zane Beadles||Jacksonville Jaguars||G||Utah|
|Tony Bergstrom||Oakland Raiders||G||Utah|
|Anthony Denham||Houston Texans||TE||Utah|
|Paul Kruger||Cleveland Browns||LB||Utah|
|Star Lotulelei||Carolina Panthers||DT||Utah|
|Brice McCain||Miami Dolphins||CB||Utah|
|Keith McGill||Oakland Raiders||CB||Utah|
|Koa Misi||Miami Dolphins||LB||Utah|
|Nate Orchard||Cleveland Browns||LB||Utah|
|Tenny Palepoi||San Diego Chargers||DE||Utah|
|Jeremiah Poutasi||Tennessee Titans||OT||Utah|
|Trevor Reilly||New York Jets||LB||Utah|
|Eric Rowe||Philadelphia Eagles||DB||Utah|
|Derrick Shelby||Miami Dolphins||DE||Utah|
|Sealver Siliga||New England Patriots||DL||Utah|
|Sean Smith||Kansas City Chiefs||CB||Utah|
|Alex Smith||Kansas City Chiefs||QB||Utah|
|Steve Smith, Sr.||Baltimore Ravens||WR||Utah|
|Paul Soliai||Atlanta Falcons||DT||Utah|
|R.J. Stanford||Detroit Lions||DB||Utah|
|Eric Weddle||San Diego Chargers||FS||Utah|
|Maurice Alexander||St. Louis Rams||SS||Utah State|
|Will Davis||Miami Dolphins||CB||Utah State|
|Nevin Lawson||Detroit Lions||CB||Utah State|
|Curtis Marsh||Denver Broncos||DB||Utah State|
|Donald Penn||Oakland Raiders||OT||Utah State|
|Robert Turbin||Seattle Seahawks (IR)||RB||Utah State|
|Zach Vigil||Miami Dolphins||LB||Utah State|
|Bobby Wagner||Seattle Seahawks||LB||Utah State|
|Haloti Ngata||Detroit Lions||DT||Oregon|
|Xavier Sua-Filo||Houston Texans||OG||UCLA|
|Will Tukuafu||Seattle Seahawks||FB||Oregon|
|Ricky Havili-Heimuli||Atlanta Falcons (IR)||NT||Oregon|
|Steven Paea||Washington Redskins||DE||Oregon State/Snow College|
|Jordan Devey||San Francisco||OL||Memphis|