Local NFL Stars: Zach Zenner and Brandon Wegher Remain, Tyler Starr Released
After a wild and tumultuous NFL preseason the rosters for each team have been finalized and are ready for the regular season. With each passing day the excitement builds as the NFL regular season is about to start.
For all Sioux Empire fans, this season may just bring more excitement as some local standouts have officially made NFL rosters.
South Dakota State's star running back Zach Zenner and former Iowa running back Brandon Wegher have made it onto the 53 man rosters for the Detroit Lions and the Carolina Panthers respectively. Another local standout however, was not so fortunate as former USD linebacker Tyler Starr was among the final cuts for the Atlanta Falcons but later was signed to their practice squad.
Both Zenner and Wegher will be fulfilling the third and fourth running back spots for their respective teams. While Zenner and Wegher may low on their respective totem poles, these local stars may still see some playing time.
While the Detroit Lions field a very skilled set of backs with Bell and Abdullah as well as Theo Riddick, there is still room for the talented Jackrabbit running back. It will be hard to keep one of the FCS's most dominant running backs off the field completely beyond just special teams.
Zenner has earned his way into the NFL by becoming the first back in Division 1 history to rush for 2,000 yards in three straight seasons. Combine that with his impressive rookie preseason performance (rushing for 183 yards) Zenner is destined to be a star in the NFL.
The road to stardom and a starting role looks to be a little easier and potentially quicker for Carolina Panther running back Brandon Wegner.
The former Iowa back has had quite the road to get to the NFL. Following a spectacular freshman season where Wegner helped lead the Hawkeyes to an Orange Bowl win on the heels of 8 rushing touchdowns and 641 yards, he left the Hawkeyes due to personal reasons. After a few years he ends up breaking all kinds of records at the NAIA division two level.
The Carolina Panthers have not had a consistently solid running back situation for quite some time which bodes well for Wegher. An unstable Jonathan Stewart at the top followed by a less than stellar Fozzy Whittaker towards the bottom gives plenty of room for Wegher to grow and succeed in Carolina.
Wegher can be a work horse running back that can provide instant production which will last deep into the fourth quarter as shown by his three touchdowns and two fourth quarter comebacks this preseason. Once Wegher accumulates more games under his belt he'll rise up through the rankings as he is more than just a back to add depth, after all that's why he is still with the team.
As for USD's 'star' in Atlanta Falcons linebacker Tyler Starr, the road to the NFL hasn't been as kind. After one year with the Falcons in which Starr saw extremely limited action the former Coyote has been cut from the final 53 man roster.
Starr wowed the NFL Combine world when he posted impressive numbers including the fastest time in the three cone drill among linebackers. Unfortunately, for this blond hair deity, another year on the Falcon's 53 man roster was not meant for another year. All is not lost for Starr however, as he recently signed with the Falcon's practice squad with big potential to make the team next year.
I may not be a fan of the Lions, Panthers, or Falcons but I'm sure going to keep an eye on these local stars and wait for there days in the spot light to commence. Zenner, Wegher, and even Starr have proven that no matter where you went to college, if you put your nose to the grindstone and bust your butt, you can succeed at any level. Now that's one heck of a way to start the NFL season.