From Antonio Gates Jr. to Joey Porter Jr.: 18 sons of ex-NFL stars in college football
Yes, it made some of us feel old.
And now, with the 2022 college football season right around the corner, there are a handful of ex-NFL players who have kids either beginning their first season of college football or returning to college programs — some of whom may end up in the league one day. This started when we heard Antonio Gates’ kid was off to Michigan State and started looking around and ... lots of ex-NFLer sons here!
Though not an exhaustive list, let’s run through some notable names in college football this season who have famous fathers:
1. Freshman WR Antonio Gates Jr. — Michigan State
Yep, you guessed it: That’s Gates’ son who’s off to the Spartans as a wideout. I can’t imagine who he learned to catch footballs from.
2. Freshman RB Eden James — Howard
A running back with the last name of James? Yep, that’s the son of ex-Colts star Edgerrin James.
3. Freshman QB Cole Pennington — Marshall
This is a no-brainer — a Pennington who committed to the Thundering Herd? That’s the son of Marshall alum Chad Pennington.
4. Freshman S Cristian Driver — Penn State
5. Freshman QB Owen McCown — Colorado
Former NFL QB Josh McCown — who played for NINE different pro teams — has a son who’s heading to the Buffaloes.
6. Freshman TE Mason Taylor — LSU
7. Freshman CB Christian Harrison — Tennessee
Former New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers safety Rodney Harrison’s kid is a Vol now.
8. RS freshman QB Clay Millen — Colorado State
9. RS freshman C Drew Kendall — Boston College
Following his father, Pete Kendall, and playing for the Golden Eagles, Drew could be a big help to Boston College, now in his second year with the program.
10. Sophomore QB Shedeur Sanders — Jackson State
11. Sophomore RB Frank Gore Jr. — Southern Miss
The son of NFL star Frank Gore, the younger running back is definitely one to keep an eye on.
12. Sophomore WR Marvin Harrison Jr. — Ohio State
13. Sophomore OT Joe Alt — Notre Dame
14. Sophomore LB Carson Bruener — Washington
Carson is the son of Mark Bruener, who played tight end for the Huskies and was one of two true freshmen to play for the 1991 national championship team, per GoHuskies.com. The linebacker’s father later became a first-round pick and played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans.
15. Junior RB E.J. Smith — Stanford
16. Junior WR Josh Downs — North Carolina
While his father, Gary Downs, was a running back for N.C. State, Josh ended up catching balls for the Tar Heels and is coming off a standout sophomore season, after which he was named first team All-ACC.
17. Junior WR Brenden Rice — USC
18. RS junior CB Joey Porter Jr. — Penn State
After being named third-team All-Big Ten by the coaches last season, Joey — the son of Joey Porter Sr., who played 13 NFL seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals — returns for the Nittany Lions and should make a decent impact for their defense this year.