Ten former Abilene Christian University standouts are busy pursuing their livelihoods this week in professional football, seven of them with NFL teams whose camps are kicking into high gear in preparation for the upcoming season.
Houston’s Danieal Manning (’07) is expected to be the Texans’ starting free safety and kick returner in his seventh season.
Now that Cedric Benson is no longer the Cincinnati Bengals’ starting running back, Bernard Scott (’08) is expected to share playing time with recent free-agent acquisition BenJarvis Green-Ellis.
Johnny Knox (’08) continues his recovery from a horrific injury that caused him to undergo spinal fusion surgery late last season. He lost 30 pounds in the process, but is jogging and building back his strength. The Chicago Bears placed him on their Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list at the start of training camp and could miss the entire 2012 season. If he is on the PUP list when the season begins, he will have to sit out the first six games. Knox was the Bears’ leading receiver in 2011.
The St. Louis Rams’ most recent fifth-round draft choice, ACU running back Daryl Richardson (’12), is competing with all-pro Steven Jackson and second-round pick Isaiah Pead. Mike Sando of ESPN says that the Rams like Richardson, but they view Pead as their future feature back.
Two former Wildcats are battling for roster spots with the Dallas Cowboys. Wide receiver and kick returner Raymond Radway (’10) has recovered from a broken leg suffered in the final minutes of the team’s last preseason game in 2011. He is competing in the Cowboys’ camp in Oxnard, Calif., with Dwayne Harris, Andre Holmes, Danny Coale and Kevin Ogletree for the third receiver role. Aston Whiteside (’11), a 6-2, 285-pound rookie free agent signee who is making the switch from defensive end in college to inside linebacker in the pros, needs a big showing to work his way onto the active roster. He is currently listed as the No. 4 ILB on the Dallas depth chart.
Clyde Gates (’11) and the Miami Dolphins are scrambling to learn the team’s West Coast offense introduced by new offensive coordinator (and former Texas A&M head coach) Mike Sherman. Gates is battling for a wide receiver role but is projected to be their top kick returner. The Dolphins will play the Cowboys in each team’s final preseason game Aug. 29 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
Offensive lineman Trevis Turner (’10) is a free agent after being waived by the Pittsburgh Steelers in May 2012. He was on the team’s practice squad last season.
Tony Washington (’10) was signed July 4 as an offensive lineman on the practice squad of the Toronto Argonauts, who are five games deep into the Canadian Football League regular season. Washington played the last two seasons with the Calgary Stampeders. “It’s a matter of time before Tony Washington starts at left tackle,” wrote Allen Cameron of the Calgary Herald on July 12. The Argonauts began the season 3-2 and are in second place in the CFL’s East Division.
In June, Neal Tivis (’11) signed with the Utah Blaze of the Arena Football League and has started their last four games along the offensive line. The team is 4-1 in late-season games Tivis has played, including a 35-34 playoff win July 28 over top-seeded San Antonio that put them in the National Conference championship game Aug. 4 with Arizona. One more win will vault them into ArenaBowl XXV.