More than 20 Long Beach football players are out there across the country working hard to make an NFL roster during the dog days of minicamps and the preseason, and the date they’re all thinking about is September 1. That’s the day that teams have to cut their roster down to 53 players (currently they’re carrying not quite double that), by 1 p.m. local time.
Some players already have roster spots all but guaranteed–Poly alums JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jurrell Casey will headline another strong Jackrabbits contingent expected to be somewhere between seven and 10 players in the league this year. Wilson’s Joel Bitonio is hoping to be part of a resurgence with the Browns, and he’ll be a big part of anything they’re able to accomplish this year.
Other players, like LBCC and Lakewood alum Josh Fatu, are right on the edge and need to do everything right in the preseason to make the roster. Fatu is in Detroit where he’s competing with Poly’s JoJo Wicker for one of the final spots on the defensive line.
Other players, like Millikan alum Alden Darby, are playing internationally, as Darby has carved out a nice role for himself with the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League. Darby was a key defensive player in the Argonauts’ championship in the 105th Grey Cup last Fall, winning the CFL’s version of the Super Bowl.
For players that don’t make the cut on September 1, there’s still hope. The next day NFL teams can establish a 10-man practice squad, or place players on injured reserve. Poly alum Randall Goforth blew his knee out late in the preseason last year with the Eagles but because he was on IR all year, he goes in the record books as a Super Bowl champion, ring and all. LBCC’s Bryan Braman is still hoping to catch on somewhere, but if he doesn’t–he won a ring with the Eagles last year and made the Super Bowl’s last tackle.
Here’s a list of the local players competing for spots–we’ll have weekly updates on their progress and we’ll follow them throughoutt he season. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you notice anyone missing.
Long Beach Poly
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Jurrell Casey, Jayon Brown, Marcedes Lewis, Kaelin Clay, DeSean Jackson, Jamize Olawale, Randall Goforth, Gerard Wicks, JoJo Wicker
John Timu, John Ross
Darius Powe, Jeremy McNichols, Matt Pryor, Josh Fatu
Alden Darby (CFL)
Josh Fatu, Matt Boesen, Bryan Braman, DeQuan Hampton