Sep. 9—As the 103rd season in NFL history gets underway in earnest this weekend, 14 Cobb County players are on league rosters.
Hillgrove leads the way with four players, including Bradley Chubb, the Denver Broncos outside linebacker recently elected a captain by his teammates.
"It's dope, man. It just puts the icing on the cake," the 26-year-old Chubb told the Broncos website. "It puts kind of a title on all the hard work and all the type of leadership I've been trying to instill. It's a great accomplishment to be looked at like that by your peers. I've got to wear it with pride."
Other Hillgrove alumni in the NFL include tight end Evan Engram, running back Kenyan Drake and tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo.
Engram joined the Jacksonville Jaguars during the offseason after beginning his career with the New York Giants. Drake began training camp with the Las Vegas Raiders before being cut at the end of camp and signing a new deal with the Baltimore Ravens. Okonkwo was a fourth-round draft pick by the Tennessee Titans this spring and enters his rookie season as the backup to Austin Hooper.
Sprayberry has three players in the league — kicker Rodrigo Blankenship and running backs Jerick McKinnon and Trey Sermon. Blankenship returns to the lineup with the Indianapolis Colts after being sidelined with injuries for much of last season. McKinnon enters his seventh season in the NFL and second with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Sermon, a third-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2021, was cut at the end of training camp and joined the Philadelphia Eagles. Being released after only one season in the Bay Area came as a surprise to Sermon.
"I definitely didn't see it coming, so when it happened, it was a lot to take in," Sermon told the Eagles website. "At the same time, it was like, 'What's next?' I knew I had to figure out a plan and figure out what happened and learn from it.
"It made me realize that the NFL is a business and, yeah, you hear about it, but once it happens to you and you see it first-hand, it's real. At the same time, the way I approached this year, I wouldn't change it at all. I'm a totally different player than I was last year. I'm healthy and I'm confident in what I'm doing and I'm excited to learn the system and be the best player I can be and help this football team win."
McEachern has two representatives in offensive linemen Tremayne Anchrum Jr. and Chuma Edoga.
Anchrum got his season started Thursday night as the Rams celebrated their Super Bowl title before suffering a loss to the Buffalo Bills. Anchrum, who won two national championship rings at Clemson, earned a Super Bowl ring during his rookie season.
Edoga, who spent three seasons with the New York Jets, joined the hometown Atlanta Falcons after training camp.
South Cobb also has two players in the league. Defensive lineman Justin Jones, after three seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers, has joined the Chicago Bears this season, while Jerry Jacobs is in his second season with the Detroit Lions.
Harrison, Marietta and North Cobb have one player each.
Quarterback Justin Fields, the former Harrison standout, is entering his first full season as starter with the Bears, while former Marietta linebacker Azeez Ojulari is entering his second season with the Giants after setting a team rookie sack record last year.
Former North cobb tight end Darren Waller is entering his fifth season with the Raiders. The former Pro Bowl tight end is looking to get back to the production he had in 2020, when he caught 107 passes for 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns.
Two other players could join active NFL rosters soon.
Former Allatoona standout wide receiver Raleigh Webb is on the Ravens' practice squad after being an undrafted free agent out of The Citadel. He is the first member from the Buccaneers' program to earn a shot in the league.
Defensive lineman Jubari Zuninga could give Sprayberry a fourth player on an active roster. After three years with the Jets, Zuninga was released and joined the Seattle Seahawks' practice squad.