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Spencer Parlier | | September 5, 2019

Players from DIII football programs on 2019 NFL rosters

2019 college football running backs to watch

As September greets us, so do the final round of NFL team cuts. This past weekend, all 32 teams slimmed down their roll to just 53 players. Although most players hail from Division I programs, there are a handful of small school stars who made the trek from Division III football to the pros. 

This year, 11 Division III players have made it past the final round of cuts. Five of them are on teams in the AFC while six are in the NFC. Both the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have two former Division III players who made it on to their squads. 

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Derek Carrier from Beloit College made the Raiders as a tight end. Nicholas Morrow from Greenville University also made the soon-to-be Las Vegas squad, holding it down at linebacker. As for the Bucs, they retained an offensive line mainstay in Hobart College's Ali Marpet. Tampa also kept center Nate Trewyn from Wisconsin-Whitewater on their practice squad. 

Hobart Athletics/Ken DeBolt Ali Marpet Hobart College Ali Marpet during his senior year at hobart college

The offensive line is the most popular position for former DIII players in the NFL, as four out of the 11 who made rosters are upfront on offense. Offensive tackle Matt Gono from Wesley College enters his second season with the Falcons and Trewyn will enter his first season with Tampa as an undrafted free agent. After a stretch of about four years of bouncing from practice squad to practice squad, offensive tackle and Louisiana College alum Jeremy Vujnovich landed a starting spot with the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. He was then waived and picked up by the Arizona Cardinals, where he is today. 

As for Marpet, who was the highest drafted player to ever come from a Division III football program (61st overall), he will enter his fifth season with the Bucs as one of their most prized offensive linemen. Selected in the second round in the 2015 NFL draft, Marpet has distinguished himself as one of the best NFL players to come from a Division III school. 

USA Today Ali Marpet Tampa Bay Bucs Ali Marpet prior to a game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Outside of Marpet, another former DIII player who found success at the professional level is Pierre Garcon. Garcon played at Mount Union College and was drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL draft. He is currently listed as a free agent. 

Other DIII players who made it beyond the final cuts include Buffalo kicker Stephen Hauschka, Green Bay wide receiver Jake Kumerow, Minnesota Viking-turned-Carolina Panther wideout Brandon Zylstra, New Orleans Saints tight end Dan Arnold and Chicago defensive back Michael Joseph. 

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Below is the full list of former Division III football players who are on NFL teams. Players who are on practice squads are designated as such. This list is according to current DIII programs and NFL rosters as of Sept. 3, 2019. 

Team player position school
Buffalo Bills  Stephen Hauschka** K Middlebury College
Oakland Raiders Derek Carrier TE Beloit College
Oakland Raiders Nicholas Morrow LB Greenville University
Green Bay Packers Jake Kumerow WR Wisconsin-Whitewater
Atlanta Falcons Matt Gono OT Wesley College
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ali Marpet  OG Hobart College
Arizona Cardinals Jeremy Vujnovich OT Louisiana College
Carolina Panthers Brandon Zylstra WR Concordia-Moorhead
Chicago Bears Michael Joseph* CB University of Dubuque
Tampa Bay Buccaneers  Nate Trewyn* C Wisconsin-Whitewater
New Orleans Saints Dan Arnold* TE Wisconsin-Platteville
*Practice Squad      
**Grad-Transfer at N.C. State his final season