Former Mountaineers make official NFL rosters

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Sam Cooke

Former App State receiver Jalen Virgil gallops past South Alabama defenders Nov. 13, 2021. Virgil signed as an undrafted free agent with the Broncos and earned a spot on the initial 53-man roster.

Ethan Smith, Reporter

Two Mountaineers have officially added their names to the NFL ranks.

Former App State defensive lineman Demetrius Taylor made the official 53-man roster for the Detroit Lions Tuesday after signing as an undrafted free agent in April. 

Taylor had a strong training camp and pre-season for Detroit according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, which allowed him on the initial roster before the beginning of the regular season. In his lone pre-season appearance, Taylor posted two total tackles along with several plays getting after the opposing team’s quarterback. 

Taylor finished his App State career with 137 total tackles, 26.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and one interception in 2019 during the Mountaineers 34-31 win at North Carolina.

Former App State defensive end Demetrius Taylor fights off a Georgia Southern blocker Nov. 27, 2021. Taylor impressed as an undrafted free agent and earned a 53-man roster spot for the Lions. (Haley Smart)

For Mountaineer fans interested in seeing more of Taylor, the Lions are this season’s training camp focus of the NFL show “Hard Knocks.” The show takes a look at the behind the scenes of organizations from coaching to players, according to HBO. “Hard Knocks” plays Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on HBO.

Former App State wide receiver Jalen Virgil secured his roster spot for the Denver Broncos Tuesday. Virgil signed with the Broncos after the NFL Draft in April as an undrafted free agent. 

Virgil impressed Broncos coaches and staff throughout training camp with his blazing speed and development as a wide receiver. Many viewed Virgil coming into the draft as primarily a kick return specialist. Appearing in three pre-season games, Virgil caught nine passes for 180 yards. A clip surfaced from a practice of Virgil making an on-the-run one-handed catch. For the Broncos, Virgil’s spot marked the 18th time in 19 years an undrafted college player had made the roster out of training camp.

 

During his App State career, Virgil totaled 1436 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in addition to three touchdowns on kick returns. 

Taylor and Virgil were not the only Mountaineers from last season’s team to pursue the NFL. Wide receiver Thomas Hennigan spent training camp with the Minnesota Vikings and is currently on the injured reserve list. Malik Williams signed with the Buffalo Bills after the NFL draft and participated in rookie minicamps and organized team activities before being waived. Corey Sutton also signed with the Lions after the NFL draft before being placed on the Reserve/Retired List

Defensive back Shaun Jolly played for the Cleveland Browns during training camp and preseason before being waived Tuesday. Linebacker D’Marco Jackson was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the fifth round with the 151st pick and is currently on the injured reserve list. Kicker Chandler Staton went undrafted after his near perfect season and did not sign with a team for training camp or pre-season.