When the National Football League season begins this weekend, 19 former Clemson players will be on NFL teams' active rosters, while another two are currently on the injured list. In addition, three more Tigers have been signed to practice squads.
With Brian Dawkins having retired after a 17-year NFL career, Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Nick Eason is now the veteran of the group. This will be his 10th NFL season.
The list includes four rookies who were starters on Clemson's 2011 ACC championship team - defensive end Andre Branch with the Jacksonville Jaguars, tight end Dwayne Allen with the Indianapolis Colts, defensive tackle Brandon Thompson with the Cincinnati Bengals and defensive back Coty Sensabaugh with the Tennessee Titans.
Clemson has at least one player on 18 of the NFL's 32 teams, and eight teams have two former Tigers - C.J. Spiller and Chris Hairston with the Buffalo Bills, Jamie Harper and Sensabaugh with the Titans, Jarvis Jenkins and Crezdon Butler with the Washington Redskins; Kavell Conner and Allen with the Colts; Leroy Hill and Byron Maxwell with the Seattle Seahawks, Charlie Whitehurst and Marcus Gilchrist with the San Diego Chargers, Dorell Scott and Barry Richardson with the St. Louis Rams, and Jacoby Ford and Jamie Cumbie with the Oakland Raiders.
Cumbie made the Raiders' injured reserve roster after being out of football for a year. He missed the team's first two preseason games last month, but then put his foot in the door with a standout performance in the Raiders' final tune-up, when he had a sack, a tackle for loss, and three PBU bat-downs at the line of scrimmage.
Also on the injured list is Tampa Bay's Da'Quan Bowers, who is rehabbing a Achilles tendon injury.
Other former Tigers who claimed spots on NFL active rosters include defensive back Chris Clemons, Miami Dolphins; defensive lineman Phillip Merling, Green Bay Packers; and tight end Michael Palmer, Atlanta Falcons.
Players currently signed to practice squads include wide receiver Tyler Grisham with the Denver Broncos, offensive lineman Antoine McClain with the Baltimore Ravens, and linebacker Ricky Sapp with the New York Jets.