Six Former Brigham Young Cougars Make Final NFL Rosters

Following each week of NFL games, Blue Cougar Football will give a recap of how former Brigham Young players did in their respective games.

This week, the NFL teams made their final roster cuts, trimming each roster down to 53 players.

The following players made the cut for their respective teams:

John Denny, Miami Dolphins, Long Snapper

Denny played at BYU from 2001-2004 as a defensive lineman. He started his junior year for the Cougars and was seventh in the team in tackles. Even without a spectacular college career, Denny scrapped his way into the league as an undrafted free-agent.  When the Dolphins picked him up, they moved him to long snapper and Denny has never looked back. In his rookie year, he took over the job as the starting long snapper and has started ever since, even earning a Pro-Bowl invite in 2010. Now entering his eighth season in the league, Denny looks to continue his job as the Dolphins’ long snapper.

Brett Keisel, Pittsburgh Steelers, Defensive End

Kiesel played at BYU from 1997-2001 at defensive end. His senior year he earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West honors and was drafted in the seventh round by the Steelers. Since joining the Steelers, Keisel has worked his way into a starting role and become a prominent member of the intimidating Steeler defense. Keisel was selected to the 2010 Pro-Bowl team after a season in which he forced two fumbles, returned an interception 79 yards for a touchdown and recorded three sacks. Keisel’s contract with the Steelers goes through the 2013 season. He is a fan favorite and very involved with the Pittsburgh community.

Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens, Tight End

Pitta played at BYU in 2004 and again from 2007-2009. Pitta holds the NCAA record for career receiving yards by a tight end with 2,901, and also holds the Brigham Young records for career receptions (221) and tight end receptions in a season (83). He was an NCAA consensus All-American his senior year and was drafted in the fourth round by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2010 NFL draft. His rookie year, he split time at tight end and special teams and saw action in 11 games. In his second year as a Raven, he was a consistent contributor in all 16 games. Pitta recorded 40 receptions, 28 of which were first downs. Along with that, he averaged 10.1 yards a catch had three touchdowns. Pitta anticipates a sensational third season in the NFL. He earned the trust of quarterback Joe Flacco last year and could be Flacco’s go-to guy in 2012. Pitta suffered a minor hand injury during the preseason, but is listed as probable for the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Austin Collie, Indianapolis Colts, Wide Receiver

Collie played at BYU in 2004 and again from 2007-2008. He was a 2008 All-American and left school after his junior season to enter the NFL draft. He was picked up by the Colts in the 4th round and had an immediate impact on the team. He quickly became one of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets as he had 60 receptions and seven touchdowns. He made critical plays for the Colts in the playoffs his rookie season, recording 123 yards on seven catches with one touchdown in the AFC championship game to help defeat the New York Jets. In the Super Bowl, he tallied six receptions for 66 yards in the loss to the New Orleans Saints. His rookie season efforts saw him named to the NFL All-Rookie team. Since his rookie season, Collie has struggled with injuries, suffering multiple concussions, including one this preseason. He is listed as questionable for the Colts’ season opener at Chicago. When healthy, Collie is a deep threat for the Colts, and hopefully will be the recipient of many Andrew Luck touchdown passes in the future.

John Beck, Houston Texans, Quarterback

Beck played at Brigham Young from 2003-2006. He was named Second Team All-American his senior year and also won the Offensive player of the Year award in the Mountain West Conference. He is most remembered for his last second, game winning touchdown pass on Nov. 26 against Utah. That pass earned him the top spot on ESPN’s SportsCenter’s top plays and also helped him win the Walter Camp offensive player of the week award. Beck was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins and was named the Dolphins’ starting quarterback part way through his rookie season. Beck struggled however, and after losing his first four games was sent to the bench. Beck spent the next three seasons as the third string quarterback for the Dolphins, the Baltimore Ravens and the Washington Redskins. Last season, he was engaged in a battle for the starting quarterback position for the Redskins with Rex Grossman. Grossman won the job initially, but then became the temporary starter for three games. The Houston Texans picked up Beck as a free agent last season and Beck battled with Case Keenum, the NCAA record holder in completions, yards and touchdowns, to make the final quarterback roster spot. Beck is going on six seasons in the league, but has only played in nine games, starting seven. He recently said about Houston, “I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wanted to be here. When I stepped out onto the field I wanted to play so that I could be here.” Hopefully this finally is a place where he will succeed. In the final preseason game against the Vikings, Beck completed 6 of 10 passes for 149 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown pass.

Dallas Reynolds, Philadelphia Eagles, Offensive Lineman

Reynolds played for Brigham Young from 2005-2008. He earned First Team All-Mountain West Conference accolades his junior and senior year, once as a center and once as a left tackle.  Reynolds signed with the Philadelphia Eagles out of college and was a member of their practice squad from 2009 and 2010. In 2011 he made the final roster cut and saw action in four games, starting in one. He looks to find more playing time this season as he has moved up to No. 2 on the Eagles’ depth chart at right guard, left guard and center.

Also making teams’ practice squads are Dallas’ younger brother Matt Reynolds at offensive lineman for Philadelphia and Harvey Unga at running back for Chicago. After making the team at linebacker last year for the Green Bay Packers, Vic So’oto has been placed on the injured reserve due to an ankle injury he suffered in the final preseason game. Players on injured reserve are not eligible to play the rest of the season.

After signing undrafted free agent contracts this offseason, Terrence BrownHebron Fangupo and McKay Jacobson have been cut from the Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively.

Other former Cougars who were on NFL teams last year, but not this year include Manase Tonga, Brady Poppinga, Bryan KehlRay FeingaMax Hall, and David Nixon. Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Chris Hoke has retired.

Look for updates each week on how these players’ NFL seasons go.

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