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LB in NFL: Seven Long Beach Products Playing in NFL This Season, Five From Long Beach Poly

WIth the start of a new NFL season, Long Beach football fans can expect new storylines, but the same story–seven Long Beach natives (including five Long Beach Poly products) will suit up on Sundays this year including a couple of historic figures.

Long Beach Poly

Five Jackrabbits made 53-man rosters this year, with another eight recently-retired or still looking for an opportunity. 

The biggest story in the league for Poly this year is Marcedes Lewis, who made history last weekend when he played for the Chicago Bears, officially beginning his 18th season at the tight end position. In the entire history of the National Football League, no player has suited up at the TE spot in more positions than the legendary Lewis, whose mother and sister were on hand in Chicago to see him break the record.

Lewis is coming off five years with the Packers and is now in his first year in Chicago. The game he played Sunday against his old team was his 252nd in the league, which is also a record for any Long Beach product.

JuJu Smith-Schuster is also with a new team, as he suits up with the New England Patriots this year fresh off his Super Bowl win with the Chiefs. Smith-Schuster, like Lewis, is a Pro Bowler in his career and looking for another great season. Smith-Schuster is only 26 but is in his seventh NFL season and is closing in on 5,000 yards and stands at 29 touchdowns.

Jack Jones is another Jackrabbit playing with the Patriots, now in his second season at defensive back with the team. Matt Corral, yet another Jackrabbit, is now in his second season in the NFL but is in his first year with the Patriots after being let go by the Panthers.

Alex Austin was drafted by the Bills this year and signed with the Texans, where he made the 53-man roster for his rookie season at defensive back.

Several other Jackrabbit veterans are either looking for a team or recently retired. DeSean Jackson is one of the most productive Poly alums of the more than 80 who’ve made it to the NFL. Jackson played 15 seasons and was a three-time Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl champ with more than 11,000 yards receiving and 66 total touchdowns. Jayon Brown retired after six seasons and 430 tackles. Iman Marshall was released by the Ravens after two years with them. Quinton Bell was in the league for two years but released by the Eagles this offseason.

Aaron Shampklin spent last year with the Cowboys and was signed in the offseason by the Chargers but was waived before the season. Three other Jackrabbits who signed undrafted spent the offseason with teams but didn’t make the 53-man roster, as Zion Bowens was released by the Commanders, Camm McDonald was released by the Rams, and Deandre Pierce was released by the Raiders.


Joel Bitonio continues his legendary NFL career as he enters his 10th season as an offensive lineman with the Cleveland Browns. Bitonio is the longest-tenured and most successful Wilson alum in city history, having just played his 130th game. Bitonio has been to five Pro Bowls and is tied with Poly’s Jurrell Casey for most Pro Bowl appearances in Long Beach history–he has a good chance to take that record for himself this season.


John Ross isn’t currently on a team, after five years in the league with nearly 1,000 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Panthers alum John Timu is currently coaching with the Chargers.


Matt Pryor enters his fifth season in the league as an offensive lineman, after spending two years in Philly and two in Indy. Pryor is playing for the 49ers this season and is the longest-tenured Lancer in history with 61 games.

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Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.