Fifteen former West Virginia University football players made NFL opening-week rosters this season.
West Virginia’s best two positions in terms of quantity among its current crop of professional players are offensive line (five) and linebacker (four).
WVU PLAYERS IN THE NFL
Yodny Cajuste, OT, New England Patriots
Cajuste was set to take the field this season for the Patriots after missing all of the 2019 season due to a quad injury that led to surgery, but was placed on Injured Reserve late last week after missing several days of practice with a knee injury. He is entering his second year in the league after being selected by New England with the 101st overall pick despite his preseason injury.
The Patriots play the Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m.
Rasul Douglas, CB, Carolina Panthers
Douglas was recently picked up by the Panthers after being released by the Philadelphia Eagles, joining alum Will Grier and Kenny Robinson, who has signed to the teams practice squad.
After being selected in the third round of the 2017 draft, Douglas immediately made an impact in 14 games his rookie season and all games through the next two seasons. In his Eagles career, Douglas totaled five interceptions, 25 pass breakups and 118 tackles.
The Panthers play the Las Vegas Raiders at 1 p.m.
Mark Glowinski, OG, Indianapolis Colts
Glowinski was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft before being claimed off waivers in 2017 by his current team, the Indianapolis Colts. In 2019, the Colts resigned Glowinski to a three-year deal.
The Colts play the Jacksonville Jaguars at 1 p.m.
Coming off what Grier described in an interview as “being bad as a backup” amid struggles when entering games last season, the former Mountaineer standout has been working hard in the off-season to learn from his mistakes. Grier, who was selected by the Panthers with their third-round pick in 2019, will again serve as a backup behind Teddy Bridgewater, who came to Carolina as a free agent in the offseason. Grier entered the NFL after a successful career with the Mountaineers and his fourth-place finish for the Heisman Trophy, tying Steve Slaton’s 2006 finish for the highest by a WVU player since Major Harris finished third in 1989.
The Panthers play the Las Vegas Raiders at 1 p.m.
Nick Kwiatkoski, LB, Las Vegas Raiders
Having spent his first four NFL seasons with the Chicago Bears, Kwiatkoski will suit up this season for the Las Vegas Raiders — where he was named a team for the 2020 season. He is coming off of a 2019 season that turned some heads, having recorded 76 tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble and an interception.
The Raiders play the Panthers at 1 p.m.
Bruce Irvin, LB, Seattle Seahawks
Linebacker Bruce Irvin is the longest tenured Mountaineer player in the league this year. The Atlanta native is beginning his ninth season overall and his fifth with the Seahawks. He has also played two seasons with Oakland and one each with Atlanta and Carolina.
Seattle faces the Atlanta Falcons at 1 p.m.
Karl Joseph, S, Cleveland Browns
A first-round selection by the former Oakland Raiders in 2016, Joseph appeared in just 49 games in four seasons with the Raiders due to battling injuries throughout those seasons. Last season, Joseph got off to a good start with the Browns when he played in nine games and tallied 38 solo tackles and interception. However, his success came to a halt when suffering a season-ending foot injury which required surgery.
The Browns are set to kickoff at 1 p.m. against the Baltimore Ravens.
David Long Jr., LB, Tennessee Titans
A sixth-round pick by the Titans in 2019, Long made 15 tackles (nine solo) with two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble as a Tennessee rookie. As a Mountaineer, Long totaled 252 tackles and 14 sacks in a standout career that included being named the 2018 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year — the first player in program history to win that award since WVU joined the league in 2011.
The Titans play at 10:10 p.m. Monday night against the Denver Broncos.
Colton McKivitz, OT, San Francisco 49ers
McKivitz is the newest addition to the 49ers offensive line, being drafted in the fifth-round of the 2020 NFL Draft. As a Mountaineer, McKivitz appeared made 47 starts in the West Virginia uniform in his five years there. As a senior, he was named Big 12 Conference Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year and First Team All-Big 12 and third team All-America by the Associated Press.
McKivitz and the 49ers are set to take on the Arizona Cardinals at 4:25 p.m.
Adam Pankey, OT, Miami Dolphins
Entering his fourth season in the NFL, Pankey is expected to give some depth to the Dolphins offensive line. However, Pankey only saw 12 snaps during the 2019 NFL season.
Pankey and the Dolphins will kickoff at 1 p.m. against the New England Patriots.
Geno Smith, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Now in his second year in Seattle’s offense, Geno Smith has established himself as the backup to Super Bowl-winner Russell Wilson. Appearing in the Seahawks first mock scrimmage of the off-season, Smith led two scoring drives, completing all eight of his passes, including a 21-yard touchdown pass. Smith was the No. 39 overall pick in 2013 by the New York Jets.
The Seahawks face the Atlanta Falcons at 1 p.m.
Quinton Spain, OG, Buffalo Bills
Earlier this offseason, the Bills signed Spain to a three-year, $15 million deal after spending the first four seasons of his career with the Tennessee Titans. Spain originally entered the NFL in 2015 as an undrafted free agent. The former Mountaineer has carved out a solid NFL career and started all 16 games this season for the Bills without allowing a single sack.
The Buffalo Bills will face Trevon Wesco and the New York Jets at 1 p.m.
Trevon Wesco, TE, New York Jets
Entering his second season as a tight end for the Jets, Wesco played in every game his rookie season but only saw the field for 214 offensive plays and recorded only three touches. However, according to the Jets organization two of those three touches — a 2-yard carry on fourth-and-inches plus a 15-yard reception on third-and-1 — in a win over the Giants show what could be to come and made Wesco only the sixth Jets TE since 1970 and the first since Johnny Mitchell in 1994 to record a first down rushing and a first down receiving in the same game.
The Jets will take the field at 1 p.m. against the Buffalo Bills.
Kyzir White, LB, Los Angeles Chargers
After flashing very early on in his rookie season, Chargers linebacker Kyzir White’s year was cut short after sustaining a knee injury. During the 2019 season, when White saw the field, he made the most of the opportunity given despite a rough beginning of the season when he struggled as the starting linebacker for the first two games.
The former West Virginia hard hitter finished with 40 tackles, two passes defensed and one tackle for loss. White is expected to see some meaningful playing time this season if he can stay healthy.
The Chargers are scheduled for a 4:05 p.m. kickoff against the Cincinnati Bangles.
Daryl Worley, CB, Dallas Cowboys
Worley will take the field this season for the first time as a Dallas Cowboy, signing a one-year contract in April entering into his fifth season in the NFL. Out of WVU, Worley was drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft’s third round by the Carolina Panthers. He has started 49 of 56 career games with 243 tackles, 34 pass breakups and 5 interceptions.
Prior to signing with Dallas, Worley had been a member of the Raiders for the last two seasons, where his eight pass breakups last season were the second most by a Raiders defender. He also tallied a tackle for a loss and an interception in 15 games.
Dallas is set for the Sunday night game against the Los Angeles Rams.
In addition, five former Mountaineers landed on practice squads, keeping their NFL dreams alive.
WR Shelton Gibson, Washington
S Kenny Robinson Jr., Panthers
RB Wendell Smallwood, Steelers
CB Keith Washington Jr., Saints
WR Kevin White, 49ers
Additionally, two former players – wide receivers David Sills V (New York Giants) and Tavon Austin (San Francisco) – are listed on injured reserve and will not play this season.