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Tracking NFL careers of players involved in epic CFB moments

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Rick Osentoski / USA TODAY Sports
Jalen Watts-Jackson's touchdown resulted in one of the most dramatic moments in college football history.

On Saturday, Michigan State prevailed over Michigan in one of the most ridiculous finishes of all time. Its place among the greatest college football moments ever will be debated for as long as the game is played.

There is a common theme among most of these epic college football moments: Many of those that played roles in the moments went on to have careers in the NFL. Some were important players, and others were not as prominent. While we wait to find out if Michigan State's Jalen Watts-Jackson, who scored the game-winning touchdown Saturday, has a future in the NFL, let's take a look at other dramatic moments and what happened to the participants beyond the college game.

Let's do this in reverse chronological order.

Kick Six

Game: Auburn 34, Alabama 28
Date: Nov. 30, 2013
Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Ala.

Major character: Auburn cornerback Chris Davis.

Davis was not selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, but made the San Diego Chargers' 53-man roster as a rookie free agent. He spent much of his rookie season as a return specialist, returning 19 kickoffs for 476 yards. However, Davis was released by the team before the start of the 2015 season.

Supporting cast: Auburn -- QB Nick Marshall, RB Tre Mason, WR Sammie Coates, OT Greg Robinson, LB Dee Ford. Alabama -- QB AJ McCarron, RB T.J. Yeldon, WR Amari Cooper, LB C.J. Mosley, DB Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Robinson, Cooper, Mosley and Clinton-Dix each went in the first round of the draft. Yeldon was a second-rounder. Each player has shown the potential to be a key contributor in the NFL. Mosley has already been selected to a Pro Bowl.


Statue of Liberty

Game: 2007 Fiesta Bowl -- Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42
Date: Jan. 1, 2007
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

Major characters: Boise State QB Jared Zabransky and RB Ian Johnson.

Johnson was signed, then released, by five different NFL teams. Zabransky was a rookie free-agent pickup for the Houston Texans, but did not hang on in the NFL. Eventually, he saw on-field action for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.

Supporting cast: Boise State -- OT Ryan Clady, CB Orlando Scandrick. Oklahoma -- RB Adrian Peterson, LB Curtis Lofton.

Peterson and Clady were first-round NFL draft selections, in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Scandrick emerged as a regular contributor for the Cowboys until a knee injury sidelined him for the 2015 season. Lofton has started in 115 of 117 possible games in his eight-year NFL career.


Bluegrass Miracle

Game: LSU 33, Kentucky 30
Date: Nov. 9, 2002
Location: Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, Ky.

Major characters: LSU QB Marcus Randall and WR Devery Henderson.

Henderson was a second-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in the 2004 NFL Draft and played nine seasons with the team. He was a member of the Saints when they won Super Bowl XLIV. Randall went undrafted, signed as a rookie free agent with the Tennessee Titans, who moved him to the defensive side of the ball as a safety and linebacker. He got into three games in 2005, making three tackles. He was cut before the start of the 2006 season.

Supporting cast: LSU -- RB Joseph Addai, WR Michael Clayton, CB Corey Webster, CB Randall Gay. Kentucky -- QB Jared Lorenzen, DT Dewayne Robertson.

Robertson was a first-round draft choice in 2003 of the New York Jets. Clayton was a first-round pick in 2004 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Addai was a first-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2006, and then went on to win Super Bowl XLI. Gay was a part of two Super Bowl-winning teams with the New England Patriots. Webster, meanwhile, picked off Brett Favre in the 2007 NFC Championship Game, setting up the winning field goal that sent the New York Giants to Super Bowl XLII, where the team upset the New England Patriots and spoiled their run at a perfect season.


Miracle in Michigan I

Game: Colorado, 27, Michigan 26
Date: Sept. 24, 1994
Location: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Major characters: Colorado QB Kordell Stewart and WR Michael Westbrook.

Stewart spent 13 seasons in the NFL, mostly with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He hit the scene in a big way as "Slash" as a rookie in 1995, performing as a quarterback, running back, wide receiver and kick returner. In 1997, he helped lead the Steelers to the AFC Championship Game, where they lost to John Elway's Denver Broncos. Westbrook had an eight-year NFL career, mostly with the Washington Redskins, for whom he had a 1,000-yard receiving season in 1999.

Supporting cast: Colorado -- OG Chris Naeole, RB Rashaan Salaam, WR Rae Carruth, TE Christian Fauria, LB Ted Johnson. Michigan -- RB Tyrone Wheatley, RB Tim Biakabutuka, WR Amani Toomer, OT Trezelle Jenkins, OT Jon Runyan, CB Ty Law.

Salaam went on to become the 1994 Heisman Trophy winner, but didn't exactly live up to expectations in the NFL. Salaam, Naeole, Carruth, Wheatley, Biakabutuka, Jenkins and Law were all first-round draft picks. Along with Westbrook, that gave this game a total of eight future first-round picks.


Hail Flutie

Game: Boston College 47, Miami 45
Date: Nov. 23, 1984
Location: Orange Bowl, Miami, Fla.

Major characters: Boston College QB Doug Flutie and WR Gerard Phelan.

Flutie -- the 1984 Heisman Trophy winner -- played in three pro football leagues. Flutie started in the USFL with the New Jersey Generals. He then played for the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots in the NFL before spending eight years in the Canadian Football League with the BC Lions, Calgary Stampeders and Toronto Argonauts. He re-emerged in the NFL in 1998 with the Buffalo Bills. After three seasons with the Bills and four with the San Diego Chargers, Flutie spent his final season (2005) with the Patriots.

Phelan was a fourth-round selection in the 1985 NFL Draft by the Patriots, but his NFL career was cut short before it started by a knee injury.

Supporting cast: Miami -- QB Bernie Kosar, WR Eddie Brown, DB Reggie Sutton, DE Kevin Fagan.

Sutton -- who had Flutie's Hail Mary sail just over his reach and into the arms of Phelan -- was a fifth-round selection by the New Orleans Saints in the 1986 NFL Draft. Fagan rose from mid-round draft choice to two-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers. In one of those Super Bowls, Fagan's 49ers defeated Brown's Cincinnati Bengals. Brown was a first-round selection in 1985, earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1985 and was a Pro Bowl pick in 1988. In one of the most fascinating draft tales in NFL history, Kosar became the first overall pick in the 1985 supplemental draft.


The Play

Game: California 25, Stanford 20
Date: Nov. 20, 1982
Location: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.

Major characters: Cal's Kevin Moen, Richard Rodgers, Dwight Garner and Mariet Ford all touched the ball on the miraculous return play for a touchdown that featured five lateral passes.

Ford didn't play in the NFL, but did spend time with the Oakland Invaders of the USFL. Moen was in training camp with the Los Angeles Raiders and Denver Broncos, but didn't make their regular-season rosters. Rodgers is currently the assistant defensive backs coach for the Carolina Panthers. His son -- Richard Rodgers -- also played at Cal and plays for the Green Bay Packers. Of that cast, only Garner played in the NFL. Garner was with the Washington Redskins in 1986, returning seven kicks for 142 yards.

Supporting cast: California -- DE Ron Rivera, LB Gary Plummer, QB Gale Gilbert, coach Joe Kapp. Stanford -- QB John Elway.

Three years after "The Play", Rivera was a member of the Chicago Bears' Super Bowl XX-winning team. He is now the head coach of the Panthers. Plummer enjoyed a lengthy pro football career, first in the USFL with the Oakland Invaders, then with the San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers. He was a member of the 49ers' Super Bowl XXIX-winning team (he's the one who symbolically takes the monkey off of quarterback Steve Young's back). Gilbert is the only player in NFL history to be a member of five consecutive Super Bowl teams (Bills, 1990-93; Chargers, 1994). Kapp -- the Cal coach -- led the Minnesota Vikings to their first Super Bowl appearance following the 1969 season.

Because of this loss, Elway never played in a bowl game during his college career. However, things turned out all right for the quarterback at the next level. As arguably the greatest No. 1 overall draft pick of all time, Elway went on to play in five Super Bowls -- winning two -- and earned a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


McMahon's Hail Mary

Game: 1980 Holiday Bowl - BYU 46, SMU 45
Date: Dec. 19, 1980
Location: Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, Calif.

Major characters: BYU QB Jim McMahon and TE Clay Brown.

Brown was a second-round selection of the Denver Broncos in the 1981 NFL Draft, but played in just four NFL games. McMahon, of course, became "the punky QB" that led the Chicago Bears to their one and only Super Bowl victory during the 1985 season. McMahon enjoyed a 15-year NFL career spent with six different teams.

Supporting cast: BYU -- OG Glen Titensor, LB Glen Redd. SMU -- RBs Eric Dickerson and Craig James, NT Harvey Armstrong, LB Byron Hunt, DBs Wes Hopkins and John Simmons.

Each of those aforementioned players enjoyed lengthy NFL careers following the mayhem of BYU's miracle win. Dickerson and James formed the famed "Pony Express" backfield. James played two seasons in the USFL for the Washington Generals before joining the New England Patriots, with whom he was on the wrong end of a lopsided defeat at the hands of McMahon's Bears in Super Bowl XX. Dickerson was the No. 2 overall pick -- behind John Elway -- in 1983 NFL Draft. The duo forms the best Nos. 1-2 overall pick combo in the draft's modern era. Dickerson holds the NFL's single-season rushing-yardage record (2,105 yards in 1984) and was a 1999 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Wrong Way Roy

Game: 1929 Rose Bowl - Georgia Tech 8, California 7
Date: Jan. 1, 1929
Location: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

Major character: Georgia Tech center Roy Riegels.

After making one of the biggest blunders in college football history, Riegels went on to be a team captain and first-team All-America selection in 1929. However, Riegels never played in the NFL, which was still in its infancy during this era.

Supporting cast: Georgia Tech -- backs Stumpy Thomason, Roy "Father" Lumpkin and Warner Mizell, tackle Gordon "Coot" Watkins.

Thomason -- the player whose fumble Riegels picked up on that fateful New Year's Day at the legendary Rose Bowl -- went on to have a seven-year NFL career, mostly spent with the Brooklyn Dodgers (yes, the Brooklyn FOOTBALL Dodgers). Lumpkin played eight seasons in the NFL, five for the Portsmouth Spartans/Detroit Lions (the Spartans became the Lions in 1934) and three with the Dodgers. In 1932, Lumpkin was a first-team All-Pro selection.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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