NFL Players Who Skipped College

NFL Players Who Skipped College

College football is often thought of as being synonymous with the NFL as there are so many athletes who started off there and then played their way into the National Football League.

Once they have made it to the NFL, they become subject to the odds placed on them depending on their performances which you can use to bet on the NFL. You can visit to see the latest sportsbooks and to keep up to date with the best odds offered for each game. College football, although intense, is a lower league of American football.

However, not every NFL player found their love of American football in college. There are actually a number of majorly successful NFL players who didn't play college football at all. Who are they, then, and where are they now with their NFL careers? Well, let’s take a look. 

10. Lawrence Okoye, DE, San Francisco 49ers

Despite the fact that he didn’t ever pick up a ball in college, Lawrence Okoye still reached the heights of the NFL when he played for the San Francisco 49ers for a brief period of time. 

With that being said, he didn’t actually make it to the field itself, but he was still able to partake in a number of different practice squads. Unfortunately, he left the league in 2017.

9. Vince Papale, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

If Disney can make an entire movie about your start in the NFL, aptly titled “Invincible” of all things, then it is probably safe to say that your NFL journey began in an interesting way. 

This is certainly true for Vince Papale who was working as a bartender part time when he was first given a chance to try out for the Philadelphia Eagles. Instead of taking up the sport whilst he was still in college, Papale’s career didn’t start until 1976 after he had left school.

It didn’t give him a disadvantage, clearly, and he took part in 41 games before he stopped playing in the NFL in 1978. It might not have been the longest career, but it was a good one.

8. Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers

Unlike some of the NFL athletes we have included in this list, Antonio Gates did actually attend college and he even played basketball while he was there. He did not, however, play football at any point during his college experience, but is that to say he missed out? Nope! 

Antionio Gates is actually one of the best NFL players to have made it to the league without ever playing in college, as many NFL enthusiasts have argued over the years. He played from 2003 to 2018 with over 116 touchdowns and 955 catches by the end of his career. 

7. Ray Seals, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Another famous NFL player who famously didn’t play football while he was in college is Ray Seals. Yet, he still managed to make his way onto the Tampa Bay Buccaneers team between the years of 1989 and 1993 where he played as a defensive end and a nose tackle.

After leaving, he went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers for a year in 1994. Then, he played for the Caroline Panthers during which time he participated in 14 games.

6. Saverio Rocca, P, Philadelphia Eagles

Another player that the Eagles took a chance on despite having no background in college football was Saverio Rocca. With that being said, he did have some experience of playing a slightly altered version of American football in Australia before he moved to the US for good. 

After his first season was played, at the time of which he was 34, he played for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins, before he then retired in 2013. 

5. Efe Obada, DE, Carolina Panthers

Efe Obada is actually still playing for the NFL today, and he is one of the only NFL players that we have included in this list who still does so. This defensive end player has had a hugely successful career so far, but it is another career that didn’t start with college football.

With over 50 tackles to his name across 42 games, the 29 year old still has a lot ahead of him, and we, for one, cannot wait to see where he goes with all of this potential! 

4. Rico Gathers, TE, Dallas Cowboys 

Although this is one of the shorter careers we have looked at, Rico Gathers still managed to play in 15 games with three receptions for 45 yards and a total of two touchdown passes.

He was expected to be the next Jason Witten for the Dallas Cowboys, but unfortunately, the team moved on and replaced him. So, maybe this is one of those instances where a bit of college football could have helped? Probably not, but Gathers still has time at 27 years old.

3. Eric Swann, DT, Arizona Cardinals 

He didn’t play in college, but Eric Swann played for both the Arizona Cardinals when he first started out and then for the Carolina Panthers in 2000 before he retired for good. 

During his time playing for the NFL he was a defensive tackle and a defensive end, and he totaled up 126 games throughout his NFL career with 46.5 total sacks, six forced fumbles, and 386 solo tackles. He was inarguably one of the best athletes who didn’t play in college.

2. Michael Lewis, WR, New Orleans Saints

Another NFL player who attended college but stayed away from football while he was there is Michael Lewis, although like Antonio Gates, he also played college basketball. 

In 2001 he went on to become the wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints until 2007 where he retired from the NFL. He had played a total of 76 games by this point. 

1. Brian Banks, LB, Atlanta Falcons 

Last but not least, we have Brian Banks, who is the final NFL player who didn’t also play American football in college. Interestingly, he did play football in school, but his stint in jail over alleged allegations of sexual assault (later disproved and overturned) meant he missed out on the opportunity to play in college, as well as the opportunity to attend college at all.

Later on in his life, the Atlanta Falcons took a chance and he spent the summer months training with them. Although he did play in a few preseason games, he was soon cut

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