Four Former Buccaneers Set to Start the 2020 NFL season
Four former Blinn College football players will start the 2020 NFL season on 53-man rosters this week.
Cam Newton is a quarterback for the New England Patriots, Dede Westbrook is a wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Damion Ratley is a wide receiver for the New York Giants, and Kendall Sheffield is a defensive back for the Atlanta Falcons.
“This is a testament to the players who come through our program and what opportunities can transpire,” said Ryan Mahon, Blinn head coach. “We always talk about our goal to get players to four-year schools, and these four individuals made it to the highest level possible. To make the 53-man roster really is a statement about their talent and it is exciting to watch our former Buccaneers compete at that level.”
Newton enters his 10th season in the NFL and first with the Patriots as the starting quarterback and team captain. In the 2011 NFL Draft, Newton became the first former NJCAA student-athlete to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick when the Carolina Panthers drafted him. He spent nine seasons with the Panthers, where he broke several NFL and franchise records and made three Pro Bowl appearances following the 2011, 2013, and 2015 seasons. His NFL career totals include 29,041 passing yards for 182 touchdowns and 4,806 rushing yards for 58 touchdowns.
Newton helped lead the Buccaneers to the program’s fourth national championship in 2009. He threw for 2,833 yards with 22 touchdowns and rushed for 655 yards that year. Newton spent two seasons at Auburn University following Blinn, where he won an NCAA national championship.
Westbrook enters his fourth season with the Jaguars after being drafted in the fourth round in 2017. His career totals in the NFL include 159 receptions for 1,716 yards and nine touchdowns.
Westbrook was an NJCAA first-team All-American in 2014 at Blinn after a season of 76 receptions, 1,487 yards, and 13 touchdowns. Following his time at Blinn, Westbrook played two years at the University of Oklahoma and totaled 2,267 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns.
Ratley starts his third season in the NFL and first with the Giants. In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected him in the sixth round. In two years with the Browns, he had 25 receptions for 344 yards and one touchdown.
Ratley was named to the NJCAA honorable mention list in 2014 after recording 45 receptions, 1,197 receiving yards, and 20 touchdowns in eight games for Blinn. Ratley signed with Texas A&M University.
Sheffield starts his second season with the Atlanta Falcons. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Falcons selected Sheffield in the fourth round. As a rookie, he saw action in all 16 games with 11 starts, and totaled 43 tackles.
Sheffield earned NJCAA first-team all-conference honors in 2016 after totaling 31 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two special teams touchdowns at Blinn. He spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons at Ohio State University, where he totaled 74 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.
The 2020 NFL season kicks off Thursday, Sept. 10.
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 41 NJCAA national championships since 1987. For more information, visit www.buccaneersports.com.