Inspired by watching Crespi of Encino alum Chris Harper and Folsom’s Jordan Richards play in their first NFL game on Thursday night for the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, we thought we’d check the rest of the NFL’s opening day rosters and compile a list of other former California high school players doing the same this weekend.
Harper’s own rise to the NFL was something to see. He was a relative unknown coming into his junior season at Crespi and came to the Elite 11 QB that summer at Pepperdine to run routes for the QBs, among them Jamies Winston of Alabama (who ended up as the MVP of that camp and was the No. 1 pick in last April’s NFL draft).
After wowing everyone at that camp with his skills, colleges took notice of Harper. He eventually signed with Cal and went on to have a solid career there even though the team struggled.
Richards’ dad was on the sidelines for Folsom’s game against Clayton Valley of Concord to start this season. He went to Stanford after starring for the Bulldogs’ first CIF state title game in 2010 and became one of the top DBs in the Pac-12.
In addition to those two, here are other rookies from California who have been listed on NFL opening day rosters (listed in alphabetical order):
D.J. Alexander (Palm Desert) Chiefs
Aric Armstead (Pleasant Grove, Elk Grove) DT 49ers
Jamil Douglas (Cypress) OL Dolphins
Nick Dzubnar (Mission Viejo) LB Chargers
Alani Fua (Oaks Christian, Westlake Village) LB Cardinals
Hronis Gransu (Crespi, Encino) OL Bears
Obum Gwachum (Chino Hills) DL Saints
Eric Kendricks (Hoover, Fresno) LB Vikings
Sean Mannion (Foothill, Pleasanton) QB Rams
Marcus Peters (McClymonds, Oakland) DB Chiefs
Ty Sambrailo (St. Francis CCC, Watsonville) OL Broncos
James Sample (Grant, Sacramento) DB Jaguars
Josh Shaw (Palmdale) DB Bengals
Derron Smith (Banning) DB Bengals
Shaq Thompson (Grant, Sacramento) LB Panthers
John Timu (Jordan, Long Beach) LB Bears
Terron Ward (De La Salle, Concord) RB Falcons
Cody Wichmann (Mariposa County, Mariposa) OL Rams
Note: There are none for the Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texasn, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins.