STARKVILLE, Miss. – Twelve former Mississippi State Bulldogs are on the active opening weekend rosters of NFL teams, including three players who will take the field in the league’s opening game at 7:30 p.m. CT Thursday when Green Bay and Seattle square off on NBC.
Linebacker K.J. Wright begins his fourth NFL season after claiming a Super Bowl ring last February with the Seahawks. Wright is once again penciled in as the starter at outside linebacker after recording 80 tackles last season. His squad goes up against the Packers, who feature two former Bulldogs in offensive tackle Derek Sherrod and defensive end Josh Boyd.
Gabe Jackson, who started all 52 games of his MSU career from 2010-13, makes his NFL debut when the Oakland Raiders travel to face the New York Jets at noon CT Sunday live on CBS.
Defensive end Tommy Kelly is the longest tenured former Bulldog in the NFL. Kelly begins his 11th season and first with the Arizona Cardinals after spending 2013 with the New England Patriots and 2004-12 with the Raiders.
Cornerback Johnthan Banks begins his second NFL season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Banks, the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award winner, recorded 55 tackles and three interceptions in his rookie season. Running back Boobie Dixon signed an offseason contract with the Buffalo Bills and enters his fifth year.
Below is a complete list of former Bulldogs on NFL opening weekend rosters:
Name Pos. Team Yrs.
Vick Ballard* RB Colts 3
Johnthan Banks CB Buccaneers 2
Josh Boyd DE Packers 2
Fletcher Cox DE Eagles 3
Boobie Dixon RB Bills 5
Gabe Jackson OG Raiders R
Antonio Johnson* DL Titans 8
Tommy Kelly DL Cardinals 11
Cameron Lawrence LB Cowboys 2
Pernell McPhee OLB Ravens 4
Derek Sherrod DT Packers 4
Darius Slay CB Lions 2
Chris White LB Bills 4
K.J. Wright LB Seahawks 4
BOLD indicates players who played at MSU during the Dan Mullen era.
* - denotes player starts season on injured reserve