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Which former Michigan State football players made 2023 NFL rosters?

Hats off to these Spartans.



Michigan State football
© Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Today is roster cut day in the NFL and a number of former Michigan State football players have made 53-man rosters.

Folks, it’s officially cut day and NFL teams had to trim their rosters down to 53 players. That meant that some former Michigan State football stars would be on both sides of the line.

A number of Spartans were cut on Tuesday while others made 53-man rosters.

Let’s start with the guys who made rosters.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings

This one is obvious. Kirk Cousins has been a staple of the Vikings’ offense for years and he was even labeled as one of the most underrated players in the NFL recently. He’ll be the starter for 2023.

Jalen Nailor, WR, Vikings

Injured throughout a chunk of the preseason, Jalen Nailor had to fight for a spot. He won one of six spots in the end and looks to be a major part of the Vikings’ offense.

Kenneth Walker III, RB, Seahawks

No one should be surprised by this one either. As long as Kenneth Walker III is healthy, he should be Seattle’s starting running back ahead of former Michigan standout turned UCLA star Zach Charbonnet.

Bryce Baringer, P, Patriots

The writing was on the wall here on Monday when the Patriots released Bryce Baringer’s main competition for the punter spot. He’s going to have a long career in the NFL.

Ameer Speed, CB/ST, Patriots

Bill Belichick drafted Ameer Speed not solely because of his cornerback skills and his size, but because he could be a special teams ace. And he made the roster on Tuesday.

Jayden Reed, WR, Packers

A fan favorite in East Lansing, a lot of Michigan State faithful are going to have a tough time rooting for him on the Packers in the NFL because, well, the Lions exist. But he can do well every week that Detroit isn’t playing Green Bay. He is going to have a special NFL career.

Connor Heyward, TE/FB, Steelers

This was never really in doubt. Connor Heyward has been a revelation with the Steelers and he’s carrying over the momentum he built in his senior year with Michigan State football. Fans love this dude in Pittsburgh.

Joe Bachie, LB, Bengals

I’ll admit when Joe Bachie went undrafted, I thought that was going to be the last we heard of him in regard to professional football. I’m glad I was wrong because he was a beast at Michigan State and the Bengals love him, too.

Brian Allen, OC, Rams

Brian Allen has been in the center of that Rams offensive line for the past few years and he’s made a name for himself. He just signed a three-year, $24 million deal with the Rams last year.

Brian Hoyer, QB, Raiders

Honestly, I don’t think Brian Hoyer will ever retire at this point. He’ll be the Raiders’ backup for 2023 but with New England cutting Bailey Zappe, maybe he’ll get dealt back to the Patriots again.

Jack Conklin, OT, Browns

Not a surprise here as Cleveland likes what it has at tackle with Jack Conklin who has carved out a nice career for himself. As long as he can stay healthy, he should be on a roster for a while.

Taybor Pepper, LS, 49ers

Taybor Pepper was an elite long-snapper for Michigan State for years and now he’s one of the better ones in the NFL. He signed a three-year deal with the 49ers in February.

Will Gholston, DE, Buccaneers

A true NFL veteran, Will Gholston has found a home in Tampa and will stay there for at least another year. He made the cut on Tuesday afternoon.

Naquan Jones, DT, Titans

As a former undrafted free agent, Naquan Jones has carved out a nice little NFL career and he’s made the Titans’ roster for another season.

Still awaiting word…

These guys have yet to be cut or make the 53-man roster, but we’ll update this as soon as the news comes out.

  • Andrew Dowell, LB, Saints (out for year with injury)

Who got cut?

These former Michigan State football players did not make rosters on Tuesday.

  • Ben VanSumeren, LB, Eagles
  • Matt Sokol, TE, Patriots
  • Kendell Brooks, DB, Cardinals
  • Kevin Jarvis, OG, Bills
  • Raequan Williams, DL, Eagles
  • Jacob Slade, DT, Cardinals
  • Cody White, WR, Steelers
  • Josh Butler, CB, Cowboys


Michigan State football: Kenny Willekes gets tryout with Lions

This is awesome.



Michigan State football
© Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Former Michigan State football star Kenny Willekes is reportedly trying out for the Detroit Lions this week.

It is pretty common for NFL teams to host tryouts throughout the season, especially as injuries start to mount. If you’ve been following the NFL, you’ll know that the Detroit Lions have already been hit with the injury bug pretty hard. With that comes a lot of tryouts to try the fill the spots of those injured player. One former Michigan State football player got the call and had a tryout with the Lions on Sept. 19.

Kenny Willekes tries out for the Detroit Lions

That’s right, former Spartan Kenny Willekes tried out for a spot on the Detroit Lions. I haven’t seen any information about how the tryout went, but the thought of him playing for the Lions is super exciting. I know not all Michigan State fans are Lions fans, but I think it’s safe to assume the majority are. Imagine being able to watch a former Spartan play for your favorite NFL team. That sounds pretty exciting to me.

Just ask Michigan fans who are also Lions fans. They get to watch former Wolverine Aiden Hutchinson dominate each week in Detroit. I would love nothing more than to have that opportunity with a former Michigan State player.

Kenny Willekes career notes

Willekes played for Michigan State from 2016-2019. He only appeared in one game in 2016, but saw significant playing time in each game his final three years. Throughout his career, he totaled 229 tackles with 51 being tackles for loss. He also collected 26 sacks and four forced fumbles. He even scored one defensive touchdown off a fumble recovery during the 2019 season as well.

Michigan State never had a dominant season during his time in East Lansing, but we had some great defenses while he was here. I would argue that if we had a slightly above average offense, we would’ve been seriously contending for Big Ten Championships during his time in East Lansing.

That’s how good these defenses were that Willekes was on.

Kenny was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL draft. However, he unfortunately is yet to see much playing time in the NFL, as he only appeared in six games for the Vikings. Even in such a small amount of games, Willekes still made an impact on the field. He accumulated 18 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Not bad if you ask me.

There’s no telling if the Lions will sign him or not. It’s very difficult to work your way back into the NFL, but I hope Willekes is able to get it done. Selfishly I hope he ends up with Detroit, but I’ll be just as happy for him no matter where he ends up.

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Kenneth Walker III, Jayden Reed each score 2 touchdowns in Week 2

It was a big Sunday for a couple of Spartans.



Kenneth Walker III
© Junfu Han-USA TODAY Sports

While it was a tough Saturday for Michigan State, Sunday is looking much better for Kenneth Walker III and Jayden Reed.

Saturday was a forgettable day for Spartan fans everywhere. Michigan State struggled mightily against Washington in a 41-7 thrashing at home by the Huskies. But Sunday was much better for the green and white. Kenneth Walker III and Jayden Reed had big days in the NFL.

Walker III was playing the Detroit Lions and a lot of local fans were not happy with how well he played against their team. He didn’t have the most effective day on the ground, but he did cross the goal line a couple of times.


The first touchdown by Walker gave the Seahawks an early 7-0 lead and the second score tied the game up at 14-14 in the third quarter. He had just over 40 yards in the game, but his offensive line did him no favors. A nice two-touchdown game for Walker in his return “home” to Detroit.

Not a bad day.

As for rookie wideout Jayden Reed, he was most of the Packers’ offense on Sunday afternoon in Atlanta, scoring the first touchdown of the game as well as another in the second half to extend Green Bay’s lead.


Like Walker’s touchdown, Reed’s was the first of the game for the Packers. He put Green Bay on the board and gave them a 7-3 lead in the first quarter. His second touchdown extended a slim Green Bay lead to two scores.

It’s clear that he’s going to be one of Jordan Love’s favorite targets this season.

Michigan State fans are still recovering from a tough Saturday following a tumultuous week, but Sunday had to put some smiles on some otherwise sad faces in East Lansing. It’s great to see Kenneth Walker III and Jayden Reed flourishing at the next level.

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Michigan State football: Ameer Speed makes Patriots’ 53-man roster

Ameer Speed is catching on in the NFL.



Michigan State football
© Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

After just one season with Michigan State football, Ameer Speed has made the New England Patriots’ 53-man roster.

It’s NFL roster cut day which means that former Michigan State football stars are learning their fate.

One of the fringe NFL roster pieces out of East Lansing this year is Ameer Speed. The Georgia transfer had an up-and-down season at Michigan State before heading to the NFL in 2023. He was drafted in the sixth round by the New England Patriots which surprised some people. He wasn’t exactly the lockdown corner we expected him to be. But it was clear that New England saw potential in him both at corner and on special teams.

Well, he clearly made a good enough impression on legendary head coach Bill Belichick during the preseason as he made the Patriots’ 53-man roster.

This was kind of where things had been trending during the preseason with Speed. He had looked really good on special teams and Belichick is a guy who really harps on the details. Not many head coaches would draft a guy purely to be a special teams ace, but there’s a reason he’s a Hall of Fame and Super Bowl-winning head coach. He knows what gets the job done.

So while Speed may not be locking guys down this season at corner, he’s going to be making plays on special teams alongside Bryce Baringer who also made the cut.

We’re hearing about Spartans all around the league making NFL rosters and Speed may be the most surprising. Earlier on Tuesday, we reported that Jalen Nailor made the Vikings’ 53-man roster.

Unfortunately, with the good news about former MSU players comes some bad news as well. Guys like Josh Butler and Ben VanSumeren who played really well in the preseason were cut and will now be looking for practice squad invites.

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