Contrary to popular belief, there is life outside of the Cullowhee Valley. And part of that life away from the tests and papers that academia entails is football. Several former student-athletes of Western Carolina University have taken their game to the next level, playing professionally in some way, shape, or form.
It was announced Tuesday that former Catamount quarterback David Rivers signed a free agent contract with the National Football League’s St. Louis Rams. Terms of the contract weren’t disclosed.
In a statement released by Rams’ head coach Mike Martz, he stated, “The things we look for in a quarterback, I felt good about this kid (Rivers) having.”
After transferring to WCU from the University of Virginia, Rivers had one of the best passing years of any Catamount quarterback in history. He completed 208 passes in 350 attempts, ranking him second in school history in completed passes for a season.
He also finished second in the single-season books in passing yardage, gaining 2,878 yards through the air, including five 300-plus yard games. Rivers threw 17 touchdown passes, ranking him third.
During his one-year stint in the Cats backfield, Rivers earned NCAA I-AA Player of the Week honors for his 474-yard, three-touchdown passing performance in a loss at Wofford. He garnered the Southern Conference honor twice.
Rivers joins another recent Catamount graduate, Brad Hoover, in the NFL. Hoover is still on with the Carolina Panthers after having an impressive rookie season. The highlight of Hoov’s first season came in the Monday Night game against the Green Bay Packers. Hoover rushed for over 100 yards, including a touchdown.
Other Cats from the past four years that are playing professional football include former tight end Kawasak Penn, defensive back Cranston Johnson, quarterback Shawn Snyder, defensive end John Scott, and place kicker Josh Jones.
Penn, Johnson, and Scott all signed with the Arean Football 2’s Greensboro Prowlers. Snyder joined the Catamount trio a year later. However, it was Penn who received the first break from the bunch.
Kawasak Penn signed with the Detroit Lions. Currently he is playing with a team in the NFL Europe.
Recent graduate Josh Jones completed an internship with Keystone Marketing. While working there, Jones continued to pursue a future in football. His opportunity came in the form of another Arena Football 2 league team, the Roanoke Steam.
So far this season, Jones is near perfect in the extra point department, and has converted on several field goal opportunities. Most recently, Jones was named the AFL2 player of the week after connecting on a game-winning field goal as time expired.