7 former Hilltoppers make NFL rosters

WKU’s wide receiver Taywan Taylor (2) tries to get around University of Miami (Ohio) defensive back Marshall Taylor (21) during the Hilltoppers’ 56-14 win against the University of Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 26, 2015 at Smith Stadium. Harrison Hill/HERALD

Jesse Spencer

All 32 NFL teams released their official 53-man rosters for the 2019 season on Saturday afternoon, and seven former Hilltoppers made the cut for the league’s 100th season.

Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

Higbee will be returning to the Rams for his fourth season with the team. He enters the season as the team’s starting tight end and will look to help the Rams reach a second consecutive Super Bowl after the team’s 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. During his budding NFL career, Higbee has amassed 60 receptions for 672 yards and four touchdowns.

Taywan Taylor, Cleveland Browns

Taylor will look to make an immediate impact for the revamped Browns offense after the Tennessee Titans traded him away for a 2020 draft pick on cut day. Entering his third season in the league and his first with the Browns, the WKU Football All-Century Team member will try to build on his 53 career receptions for 697 yards and two touchdowns.

George Fant, Seattle Seahawks

Fant is entering his fourth season with the Seahawks with the hopes of having an injury-free year. Fant missed the entire 2017 season due to an ACL tear, and the versatile big man suffered an ankle sprain against the Minnesota Vikings this preseason. The 6-foot-5- inch, 322-pounder is expected to serve as a backup at both offensive tackle and tight end when healthy in 2019.

Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts

Doyle will have many obstacles to overcome during the 2019 season, as he looks to overcome a hip injury that cost him five games and a lacerated kidney that landed him on injured reserve to end 2018. The WKU Football All-Century Team member has tallied 200 receptions for 1,728 yards and 14 touchdowns over six seasons with the Colts, but the tight end will be without his usual starting quarterback in 2019 — Andrew Luck abruptly retired from the NFL on Aug. 24.

Forrest Lamp, Los Angeles Chargers

Lamp will look to prove his worth to the Chargers fan base this season, as the former second-round pick has managed only 17 total snaps over his first two seasons due to a torn ACL in his right knee. Lamp is currently a backup at right guard, but the WKU Football All-Century Team member has been working to become effective at both guard positions.

Deon Yelder, Kansas City Chiefs

Yelder will push to find his niche for the Chiefs during his second season in the league. Yelder will serve as a back- up to Travis Kelce in the high-powered Chiefs offense, which is led by MVP Patrick Mahomes. He will also get plenty of snaps as part of the special teams unit, which he became part of after he was promoted by the Chiefs from their practice squad last October.

Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Chicago Bears

Iyiegbuniwe will aim to continue making an impact on special teams for the Bears in his second year with the team. Iyiegbuniwe appeared in every game last season as a reserve — including a Wild Card playoff game — and made nine tackles as a rookie. He is currently listed behind former first- round pick Roquan Smith at inside linebacker in the Bears’ 3-4 defense.

Potential practice squad players

The Baltimore Ravens cut former WKU offensive lineman Darrell Williams, while the Dallas Cowboys cut former WKU quarterback Mike White. The Cowboys are hoping to add their 2018 fifth-round pick to the practice squad if he clear waivers, but White is looking for a 53-man roster spot elsewhere, according to a tweet from Dallas Morning News reporter Calvin Watkins.

Former WKU tight end Mik’Quan Deane also spent time during the preseason with the Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns. Deane was waived by all three teams.

Reporter Jesse Spencer can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]