LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Because Kentuckiana has no dedicated team to cheer for come NFL season, fans often attach themselves to the closest teams or those with familial attachment. And the good news for those who have no team, or whose team did not make the playoffs, there's always college favorites.
This year, 13 former Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana and even WKU players are competing in wild-card weekend, playing in every game on today and tomorrow's schedules:
University of Louisville:
Lamar Jackson (Ravens) — The Heisman trophy winner and first-round draft pick revitalized a Ravens offense desperate for change after Joe Flacco's injury in November. He will lead the Ravens against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday at 1 p.m.
Josh Bellamy (Bears) — Bellamy played for the Cards under head coach Charlie Strong, and has been with the Bears since 2014. In his breakout season in 2017, Bellamy played in 15 games with seven starts and finished with a career-high 24 receptions for 376 yards. The Bears will face the Eagles on Sunday at 4:40 p.m.
Brandon Dunn (Texans) — A Louisville native and PRP graduate, Dunn was originally signed onto the Texans' practice squad in 2015. This year, he started in 10 games. The Texans face the Colts Saturday at 4:35 p.m.
University of Kentucky:
Danny Trevathan (Bears) — A seven-year NFL veteran, Trevathan won Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos. Now with the Bears, Trevathan was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week after a Week 2 win over the Seahawks in which he recorded six solo tackles, two sacks, two assists and a forced fumble.
Za'Darius Smith (Ravens) — The 26-year-old was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He has started in eight games this season, gaining AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after recording three sacks, one assist and one forced fumble in Week 6.
Chris Covington (Cowboys) — The rookie linebacker was drafted by the Cowboys in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Covington was named IU's Defensive Player of the Year in his final year with the team, and has played in five games this season. The Cowboys will face the Seahawks in Saturday's night game at 8:15 p.m.
Dan Feeney (Chargers) — Feeney was drafted alongside WKU's Forrest Lamp in 2017, and was named to the All-Rookie team after replacing starter Matt Slauson in the latter half of the season. Feeney started in all games this season.
Nate Sudfeld (Eagles) — A backup quarterback for the Eagles since 2017, Sudfeld is a Super Bowl champion. In the last game of the season, Sudfeld replaced an injured Nick Foles and threw his first career touchdown pass.
Western Kentucky University:
Joel Iyiegbuniwe (Bears) — The rookie and Bowling Green native was drafted by the Bears in the fourth round after being named First Team All-CUSA in 2017. Iyiegbuniwe has one stuff and nine combined tackles this season.
Jack Doyle (Colts) — A Colts captain and six-year NFL veteran, Doyle was claimed off waivers by the Colts in 2013, working his way up to a 2017 Pro Bowl selection (the first Pro Bowler in WKU history). Doyle was placed on IR after being hospitalized for a kidney injury in November.
Mike White (Cowboys) — The backup quarterback has not started in any games for the Cowboys in his first NFL season, backing Dak Prescott.
George Fant (Seahawks) — The Bowling Green native was an All-Conference basketball player for the Hilltoppers before deciding to try football only in his fifth year at WKU. After signing with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent, Fant played offensive tackle, working his way up to a starting position. After their tight-end was injured in Week 4, Fant began playing as a tackle/tight-end, recording his first career reception in December.
Forrest Lamp (Chargers) — After spending his rookie season on IR, Lamp has played in only two games of the 2018 season. Lamp is expected to play more as he continues to work back from injury.
In addition to former collegiate players, Pro Football Reference lists several Kentucky and Indiana natives who are competing this weekend:
- Louisville native Daniel Ross will play alongside the Cowboys' "Hot Boyz" Saturday at 8:15 p.m.
- Mike Mitchell of Fort Thomas will play free safety for the Colts Saturday at 4:35 p.m.
- Ben Braunecker, a Ferdinand, Indiana native, will play tight-end for the Bears Sunday at 4:40 p.m.
- Nick and Zach Martin of Indianapolis will be playing for two Texas teams, the Texans and the Cowboys, respectively.
- Plainfield, Indiana native James Hurst will compete for the Ravens Sunday at 1 p.m.