Former Sun Devil football draft picks, free agents realize fate

Three recent Sun Devils make NFL rosters

With the NFL season underway, several recognizable names for ASU football fans found themselves on both ends of the bubble.  

All three former Sun Devils that were taken in the 2018 NFL Draft secured a spot with their respective teams following rosters cuts. Miami Dolphins’ running back Kalen Ballage, New England Patriots’ linebacker Christian Sam and Denver Broncos’ offensive lineman Sam Jones all bolstered their chances with promising moments this preseason. 

Ballage, Sam and Jones all played for the Sun Devils during the 2017 football season.

After being selected in the fourth round of the draft by Miami, Ballage battled injury throughout preseason but finished with 122 yards from scrimmage in two games. He will likely serve as the third running back on the depth chart for the Dolphins this season.

Ballage is revered in Tempe most notably for his eight touchdown performance against Texas Tech University back in 2016.

Christian Sam was a key cog in the Sun Devils’ defense last season, as he registered 127 total tackles to go along with three total sacks from the linebacker position. 

Sam was selected by the Patriots in the sixth round of the draft (No. 178). He then shined in New England’s second preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, with seven solo tackles, one pass defended and one interception. Sam figures to add depth at linebacker for the reigning AFC Champions.

Five picks after the Patriots selected Sam, guard Sam Jones heard his name called by the Denver Broncos. At 6-foot-5 inches and 290-pounds, he played multiple positions on the Sun Devils’ offensive line from 2015-2017 after redshirting as a freshman in 2014. 

He was listed as the backup center prior to the season, according the Broncos' site. The site also states that the rookie may also play the guard position if necessary.

Before starting at ASU, running back D.J. Foster made a name for himself within the state as a standout player at Saguaro High School in Scottsdale. 

From 2012-2015, he was an offensive difference maker at ASU, both as a runner and pass catcher. He accumulated 4,813 yards from scrimmage and 32 total touchdowns in those four years. 

At the next level, Foster went undrafted in 2016 but spent some time with the Patriots before they released him in 2017. That year, he was signed by the Arizona Cardinals and appeared in seven regular season games. 

During this preseason, the Cardinals’ running back suffered a torn MCL and ACL in his knee, which resulted in him being placed on injured reserve. Prior to the season-ending injury, Foster was thought to be on the roster bubble for the team.

A former ASU teammate of Foster’s in 2015, wide receiver Tim White tallied 1,346 yards and 10 touchdowns during his two campaigns in Tempe. 

A talented special teamer, White was picked up by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2017, but spent the entire season on injured reserve. Back healthy this preseason, White finished with five catches for 90 yards in the five games, but was ultimately released by the Ravens. However, he was added back to the team's practice squad.

Side Note: Outside of NFL circles, another group of former Sun Devil football players made news in the last couple weeks. Former ASU quarterback Mike Bercovici, former ASU running back Demario Richard and former ASU linebacker D.J. Calhoun all signed with Alliance Phoenix of the Alliance of American Football, a new professional football league set to debut in Feb. 2019.


Reach the reporter at kmgianco@asu.edu and follow @Kaleb_Mart on Twitter.

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