Dreams of playing professional football don’t end when your name isn’t called in the NFL draft. There are still plenty of opportunities to make a roster and have a long career. Some some free-agent contracts just moments after the draft is finished while others are forced to getting invites to try-out camps to earn a shot to continue to live their dreams.
With very few draft picks coming out of BYU in the last number of years, plenty of former Cougars have been forced to take one of these two routes, and there have been more than a handful of success stories.
Here is a look at the best NFL careers by BYU Cougars who went undrafted.
25. Vince Stroth (1985-88)
Stroth played three seasons in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers and the Houston Oilers. He saw his most action with the Oilers in 1987 when he appeared in nine games.
24. Mike Keim (1991-95)
Keim played five seasons in the league with the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks . His best year came in 1994 when he played all 16 games for Seattle on the offensive line.
23. Gabe Reid (2003-06)
Reid played four seasons at tight end with the Chicago Bears. His best statistical season came in 2006 when he caught four passes for 37 yards in 13 games.
For his career, made seven receptions for 57 yards in 30 games.
22. Daniel Sorensen (2014-current)
Sorensen has played the last two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs where he has seen action in 25 games in the defensive backfield. His best year came in 2015 when he recorded 23 tackles, defended two passes and had a sack.
So far in his career, he has registered 23 tackles, two passes defended and a sack.
21. Max Hall (2010-11)
Hall made the Arizona Cardinals and lasted parts of two seasons on the roster. He played in six games as a rookie, including three starts where the team had a 1-2 record. His lone win was 30-20 over the New Orleans Saints where he completed 17 of 27 passes for 168 yards.
For his career, he completed 50 percent of his passes for 370 yards and a touchdown.
20. Tim McTyer (1997-2000)
McTyer played four seasons in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cleveland Browns. His best season came in 1998 when he played 16 games and had 33 tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception.
For his career, he had 50 tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception in 28 games.
19. Daniel Coats (2007-11)
Coats lasted five years in the NFL as a tight end with the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos. One of his best years came with the Bengals in 2009 when he caught 16 passes for 150 yards.
For his career, he had 30 receptions for 291 yards in 57 games.
18. Naufahu Tahi (2006-10)
Tahi spent five seasons in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings. He played 56 games at fullback, including 14 starts. One of his best seasons came in Minnesota when he played 15 games and caught 10 passes for 67 yards and a touchdown.
For his career, he caught 33 passes for 150 yards and two scores while carrying the ball 10 times for 21 yards.
17. Craig Patterson (1990-91)
Patterson spent two seasons playing on the defensive line for the Phoenix Cardinals. His most productive season came in 1991 when he started 13 of 16 games and recorded a fumble recovery and an interception.
16. Ronney Jenkins (2000-03)
Jenkins played four seasons in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders where he was mostly used on special teams. His best season came with the Chargers in 2001 when he led the league kick-return yards (1,541), kick-return averaged (26.6) and kick return touchdowns (two).
For his career, he averaged 23.9 yards on 190 kick returns while scoring three touchdowns.
15. Reno Mahe (2003-07)
Mahe spent five seasons in the NFL, playing 55 games with the Philadelphia Eagles. He did most of his work on special teams as a punt and kick returner, but also saw some snaps as a running back. One of his best seasons came in 2005 when he led the NFL with 12.8 on 21 punt returns.
For his career, he rushed for 196 yards on 47 carries while catching 33 passes for 230 yards.
14. Justin Ena (2002-05)
Ena had a four-year NFL career after making the Philadelphia Eagles in 2002. His most productive season came with the Tennessee Titans in 2004 when he started five games and made 32 tackles and defended a pass.
For his career, he totaled 59 tackles in 47 games.
13. Uani Unga (2015-current)
Unga had a terrific rookie season after he made the New York Giants in 2015. He appeared in 13 games (three starts) and recorded 59 totals tackles, four passes defended, two forced fumbles and two interceptions.
12. Morris Unutoa (1996-2002)
Unutoa played 86 games over seven seasons with three different teams in the NFL as a backup center after making the Philadelphia Eagles in 1996. His longest stint came in Philadelphia where he played 48 games over three seasons. He also played for the Buffalo Bills and had two stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. During his second stretch with the Buccaneers, he was a part of a Super Bowl winning team in 2002.
11. Dallas Reynolds (2009-current)
Like many players on this list, Reynolds landed with the Philadelphia Eagles to start his pro career. He played 16 games on the offensive line in Philadelphia before moving on to the New York Giants where he has played for the last three seasons.
10. Bill Ring (1981-86)
Ring made the San Francisco 49ers where he played 69 games over six seasons. His best year came in 1983 when he appeared in all 16 games, including five starts. That season, he rushed for 254 yards and two touchdowns on 64 carries. He also caught 23 passes for 182 yards.
He also made solid contributions in the 49ers 1981 playoff run to the championship, carrying the ball 21 times for 73 yards and a touchdown while also catching two passes.
For his career, the two-time Super Bowl champion carried the ball 183 times for 732 yards and seven touchdowns as a rusher. He also registered 45 receptions for 336 yards and another score.
9. Scott Brumfield (1993-98)
Brumfield managed to stay on the Cincinnati Bengals for six seasons after he made the roster in 1993. He appeared in 56 games with the Bengals, including 29 starts on the offensive line.
He is a remarkable story of strength and perseverance. After moving into the starting lineup during the second game of the 1996 season, he started eight straight games. During the eighth and final game of his season, he suffered a severe spinal cord injury against the Baltimore Ravens which left him temporarily paralyzed. After months of rehab, he was able to return to the football field and play in 15 of the Bengals 16 games the following season, including two starts.
8. Aaron Francisco (2005-12)
Francisco made the Arizona Cardinals in 2005 as an undrafted free agent. He appeared in 75 games (23 starts) with the Cardinals and the Indianapolis Colts during his eight-year career as a defensive back and safety. His most impressive season came in 2010 when he started all 12 games he played in at safety for the Colts and recorded a career-high 59 tackles and two interceptions.
For his career, he made 218 tackles, intercepted four passes and forced a fumble.
7. Jeff Staggs (1967-74)
Staggs played eight seasons in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers and the St. Louis Rams. During that time, he recovered nine fumbles and intercepted three passes from the linebacker position in 82 games.
6. John Denney (2005-current)
Denney found his niche in the NFL and has turned it into a long and impressive career. He has played 176 over 11 seasons in the league as a long-snapper and has earned Pro Bowl selections in 2010 and 2012.
5. Chris Hoke (2001-11)
Hoke made the Pittsburgh Steelers and managed to carve out an 11 year NFL career. Even though he made the Steelers in 2001, he didn’t play in a regular season game until 2004. Over the next eight years, he appeared in 114 games (18 starts) at nose tackle and recorded 83 tackles and two sacks, while being a part of two Super Bowl winning teams.
4. Fred Whittingham (1964-71)
Whittingham played 63 games from 1964-1971 after going undrafted. During that time, he played for the Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints and Boston Patriots as a linebacker.
For his career, he registered three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
3. Larry Moore (1998-2005)
After going undrafted, Moore made the Indianapolis Colts in 1998. He played 96 games (73 starts) over eight seasons playing for the Colts, Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals.
He had his most success with the Colts where he spent time at center and right guard. He started 48 of the 54 games he played with Indianapolis and did very well protecting a young Peyton Manning.
2. Dick Felt (1960-66)
Felt appeared in 80 games over seven seasons as a member of the New York Titans and the Boston Patriots in the AFL as a defensive back. His best season came in 1962 when he intercepted five passes for the nine-win Patriots and was named to the Pro Bowl.
During his career, he registered 18 interceptions and was named a Pro Bowler on two separate occasions.
1. Chad Lewis (1997-2005)
Lewis made the Philadelphia Eagles after not hearing his name called during the draft. As a rookie, he only caught 12 passes for 94 yards, but found the end zone four times. In fact, the first touchdown of his career was thrown by fellow BYU alum Ty Detmer. Lewis went on to play 116 games (77 starts) over nine seasons with the Eagles and the Saint Louis Rams. His best statistical season came in 2000 when he caught 69 passes for 735 yards and three touchdowns. He was also very effective in the playoffs catching 38 passes for 409 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games.
For his career, he had 229 receptions for 2,361 yards and 23 touchdowns in nine seasons, and was a three-time Pro Bowl selection.