FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Colorado State University Rams football play in one of the smaller Division I conferences in college football but that doesn’t mean they are lacking in NFL talent. There are currently nine active former Colorado State players in the NFL. For a school outside of a power five conference, one may even call them the best wide receiver talent mid-major school in the nation.
Colorado State not only has a lot of wide receiver talent in the NFL but also one of the best linebackers in the entire league went to school there in Fort Collins. That linebacker is Shaquil Barrett.
Barrett entered the NFL after the 2013 Colorado State football season where he recorded 12 sacks and led the Rams to a bowl win over Washington State. Despite this, Barrett went undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft but was signed by the in-state NFL team, the Denver Broncos. He ended up playing five seasons for the Broncos while winning a Super Bowl there and then signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019. In the 2019 season, he led the entire NFL in sacks which prompted a Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection for him that year. Barrett is now a two-time super bowl champion after winning the 2021 Super Bowl as well and will be a top five paid outside linebacker in the NFL in 2022 when his new contract kicks in.
In addition to Barrett, some of the best players from Colorado State in the NFL are wide receivers. Four out of the nine Rams in the NFL are wide receivers. The most tenured wide receiver out of this group is Rashard Higgins who was drafted in 2016. Higgins has been a Cleveland Brown his entire career and has had two seasons with at least four touchdown catches. The next wide receiver from Colorado State in the NFL is the talented receiver on the Dallas Cowboys, Michael Gallup. Gallup was drafted in 2018 in the third round by Dallas and has been a big play receiver for them ever since. In just his second year, Gallup had 1,107 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
Two more Colorado State receivers joined Higgins and Gallup in the NFL in 2019, one coming in the seventh round in Olabisi Johnson and one on a free agent deal in Preston Williams. Johnson went to the Minnesota Vikings where he immediately contributed to the team with 31 catches for 294 yards and three touchdowns his rookie season. Unfortunately, Johnson tore his ACL before the 2021 season and will be rehabbing for a return next year.
In 2019, Preston Williams turned that undrafted free agency contract into an even better rookie season with 32 catches for 428 yards and four touchdowns. He also had a good 2020 season and will look to build on that in 2021.
Another unlikely NFL player who played for Colorado State is long snapper Trent Sieg. While his only job is to snap the ball on punts and field goals, he has been in the league since 2018 with the Raiders and has even made over $3 million in the NFL just snapping a few times per game.
Lastly, is one of the longest tenured Colorado State players in the NFL in Ty Sambrailo. Sambrailo’s career also started out with the Denver Broncos, like many Colorado State players have. He has been a top offensive lineman the last couple of seasons now for the Tennessee Titans and at age 29 he already has seven years under his belt in the NFL with many more to come.
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