Football: Owls players active in the NFL

Six players make cut after training camps.


Max Jackson

D’joun Smith (Black shirt) and Lucky Whitehead are two former Owls that will be suiting up in the NFL on Sundays this season. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Josh Talero, Contributing Writer

In its 15 years as a program, Florida Atlantic football has yet to produce a first-round pick in the NFL Draft. Despite that fact, the team has constantly provided talent to the professional ranks.

Starting with Rusty Smith, who was drafted in 2010, the Owls have built a reputation of having players in the NFL.

With several Owls vying for a spot on a team’s roster during this year’s training camp, here’s a list of where each player will be on Sundays.

Duron Carter, Indianapolis Colts, Wide Receiver (waived)

Duron Carter was waived by Indianapolis just hours before the final deadline for teams to submit their final 53-man roster. Carter consistently made plays through training camp, catching four touchdowns in one practice.

However, it took Carter until the fourth and final preseason game against the Bengals to translate the practice hype into game tape while nabbing five catches for 85 yards, including this reception that went for 42 yards.

Previously, Carter spent two seasons in the Canadian Football League playing for the Montreal Alouettes and finished with 124 catches, 1,939 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Carter was a highly sought free agent prior to this season, with a 6-foot-5 211-pound frame capable of making explosive plays. He is not expected to be unemployed for long as many teams have expressed interest in Carter dating back to last offseason.

Other than the Colts’ practice squad, possible landing spots for Carter include teams starting the year thin at the receiver position. Carter went undrafted in 2013 after brief stints with Ohio State University, Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College and Alabama.

Adarius Glanton, Carolina Panthers, Linebacker (waived)

Adarius Glanton will most likely begin his sophomore season on the Panthers’ practice squad after being waived by the team before Saturday’s deadline.

He finished his rookie campaign with 12 total tackles and one forced fumble while appearing in 12 total games with three starts, including one during the postseason against the Arizona Cardinals.

Glanton also began his first year on the practice squad before being activated after six games due to an injury to A.J. Klein. Glanton’s waiving is most likely the result of a fierce battle for the final linebacker spot on a depth chart that features Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson, who the Panthers selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Prior to his start with the Panthers, Glanton spent two seasons playing for the Owls. He finished his career with 149 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions.

Rob Housler, Cleveland Browns, Tight End (53-man roster)

Rob Housler successfully secured a spot in the Browns’ depth chart for the start of this year’s NFL season. Housler spent his first four years in the league with the Arizona Cardinals, compiling 105 receptions for 1,133 yards and one touchdown.

Cleveland signed Housler this offseason in an effort to replace some of the production of former Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron.

Cleveland showed interest in Housler due to his pass-catching ability, however he has shown early struggles in camp with dropped balls. He has played in two of four preseason games, recording just four catches for 51 yards.  

However, during a recent conference call with Head Coach Mike Pettine regarding the tight end, he said, “I know we’re heavy at that position, but Rob’s put himself in a position to potentially merit a spot on the 53.”

The fact that Cleveland is particularly shallow at the tight-end position plays in Housler’s favor. Housler became the second player ever selected from FAU when the Cardinals picked him in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Randell Johnson, Buffalo Bills, Linebacker (53-man roster)

In his second season for the Buffalo Bills, Randell Johnson will likely find himself in a backup role behind starting linebacker Manny Lawson.

The Bills offer a lot of depth at the linebacker position, and one of the league’s best rosters on the defensive side of the ball. According to a Football Outsiders survey, the Bills finished second in defensive efficiency last season.

Johnson found a role in special teams for the Bills in his rookie season and came up with an open field tackle against Percy Harvin during Week Eight. Johnson also recovered a loose ball after Miami Dolphins’ Jarvis Landry muffed a punt.

Johnson redshirted for FAU in his first year, but found playing time in every year afterward and was named FAU’s Iron Man of the Year in 2013.

The Bills spent a seventh round pick on Johnson in the 2014 NFL Draft due to his athleticism and upside. Johnson is the epitome of a low-risk, high reward investment when it comes to drafting football players.

Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins, Running Back (53-man roster)

Alfred Morris deserves the most recognition when it comes to driving FAU into the NFL Sunday spotlight: that argument is not up for debate.

Morris was drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. So far through three seasons he has rushed for a total of nearly 4,000 yards, and has finished each year rushing for over 1,000 yards.  

Morris took the league by storm in his rookie year rushing for 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns. He appeared in two consecutive Pro Bowls during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Now in his fourth year in the league, Morris has established himself as one of the league’s premiere backs with his unique blend of speed and power. And with the ongoing woes at the quarterback position, i.e. RGIII, Morris will be looked to by the coaching staff to alleviate some of the pressure on newly announced starting quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Keith Reaser, San Francisco 49ers, Cornerback (53-man roster)

Keith Reaser enters the 2015 NFL season predicted to be one of the starting cornerbacks for the San Francisco 49ers.

Reaser was selected in the fifth round by the 49ers in the 2014 NFL Draft after a solid career at Florida Atlantic, where he finished with 154 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, six interceptions and one fumble recovery which he returned for a touchdown.

Reaser has definitely faced adversity in different stages of his playing career, including a torn ACL during his senior season at FAU which forced him to spend his rookie season with the 49ers listed on injured reserve.

Reaser boasts tremendous speed, with a 4.3-second 40-yard dash according to Mike Mayock of He failed to attract attention from major college football programs as he was listed at 5-foot-10 and 147 pounds. However, after spending four seasons at FAU, Reaser grew an inch and gained 40 pounds.

Reaser is the cousin of the late former All-Pro Safety Sean Taylor, who he says inspires him in his professional career. “It gave me confidence in myself,” he said. “This is my family member. If he can do it, I can do it, too.”

D’Joun Smith, Indianapolis Colts, Cornerback (53-man roster)

During last winter’s NFL Combine, Colts’ Head Coach Chuck Pagano asked D’Joun Smith during an interview who he thought the best cornerback in the upcoming draft was. Without hesitation Smith replied, “It’s me.”

That kind of confidence is a sought after personality trait in the modern NFL cornerback prospect. Pagano and the rest of the coaching staff felt Smith was worthy of a mid-round draft pick, as they selected him with the first pick of the third round in the 2015 NFL Draft.

However, Smith’s confidence has been put through the fire early in preseason and training camp, as he has been given the test of covering first-team receivers such as T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson.

Besides that pair, he was assigned to cover Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett, who the Colts selected in the first round of this year’s draft and are extremely excited for their potential as receivers.

Smith has taken reps covering Duron Carter (mentioned above) and faced the challenge of covering throws from last season’s passing touchdown leader quarterback Andrew Luck.

The bright side is that with all this competition, Smith will be forced to improve at a more rapid pace than most rookie cornerbacks around the league. With the lack of depth at the position, Smith will find a significant amount of playing time this year.

Smith finished his four year career at Florida Atlantic recording 113 total tackles, five tackles for loss and nine interceptions. While being selected in the third round, Smith became the highest player ever drafted out of the FAU program.  

Lucky Whitehead, Dallas Cowboys, Wide Receiver (53-man roster)

Lucky Whitehead has earned a spot as the fifth receiver on the Dallas Cowboys. His chances were originally slim, as he was signed by the team as an undrafted free agent shortly after the end of the 2015 draft.

Whitehead played for FAU his junior and senior seasons, and departed the program with 85 career receptions, totalling 896 yards and eight touchdowns as well as 25 rushing attempts that went for 245 yards and two touchdowns.

Whitehead doesn’t offer physical size, as he is listed at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds. However, he possesses significant strength which he showed scouts during FAU’s pro day,  pumping out 20 reps of 225 pounds on bench press.

The Cowboys came into this year considerably thin at the wide receiver position. After No. 1 receiver Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley are the most noteworthy names on the depth chart.

Whitehead earned his spot on the roster, ranking second on the team with eight catches for 61 yards while hauling in a touchdown from signal-caller Tony Romo. Whitehead is also an option for the Cowboys at kick returner, after return-man Dwayne Harris departed the team in the offseason.

During the preseason Whitehead averaged 30.7 yards on six kickoff returns and 12.5 yards on 12 punt returns. Coincidentally, Lucky will be brandishing the number 13 for the Cowboys this season.

Andrae Kirk, Arizona Cardinals, Linebacker (waived)

Andrae Kirk was waived by the Cardinals Aug. 31 after a preseason battle with a large rookie linebacker class in Glendale.

Arizona awarded the final linebacker spot to rookie Alani Fua, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent like Kirk.

Kirk saw action in three preseason games and recorded two tackles. Prior to his first year in the pros, he saw action in all four of his years at FAU, recording 345 total tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions, 14 pass deflections, and two forced fumbles.

Damian Parms, Atlanta Falcons, Safety (waived)

Damian Parms was waived by Atlanta one day before the team’s preseason opener.

Like many of his fellow Owls, Parms went undrafted and fought his way onto a preseason roster. Parms offers good size and and aggressiveness at the safety position.

Spending three seasons with FAU, Parms finished with 182 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, one sack, three forced fumbles, eight pass deflections and an interception.

Josh Talero is a contributing writer for the University Press. To contact him on this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.