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So which Latter-day Saint gridders survived NFL's 'Termination Tuesday'?

Almost 2 dozen Church members claim

‘Opening Day’ roster spots on NFL squads.

By Jason Swensen

29 Aug 2023

Several Latter-day Saints battling for an NFL opening day roster slot in 2023 will forever remember Aug. 29 — 'Termination Tuesday' — as a day of dismay.


For others, it was a day to celebrate.


Teams across the National Football League made their final cuts prior to next week’s season opener. 

While Church members/NFL rookies such as Jaren Hall and Puka Nakua (both BYU products) survived Tuesday’s roster-slash, LDS veterans such as Britain Covey (Utah) and Tyler Larsen (Utah State) were not as fortunate.


Meanwhile, several other seasoned LDS players such as Kyle Van Noy, Chase Hansen, Harvey Langi and Daniel Sorensen are, at the moment, without teams for the first time in years. 


Here’s a list of Latter-day Saint gridders who made NFL “Opening Day” rosters (including players with "Reserved/Injured" status): 

  • New York Jets defensive lineman Bradlee Anae (Utah) begins the 2023 season on the team's "Reserved/Injured" list. The Hawaii native spent his first two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys.

  • Denver Broncos tackle Garett Bolles (Utah/Snow College) has been a mainstay on the Broncos’ offensive line since his rookie campaign.  The former All-Pro served a mission in the same state where he now earns his living — Colorado.​


  • Third-year pro Brady Christensen (BYU) is firmly entrenched in the Carolina starting lineup after playing left guard for the Panthers in 2022. The Utah native served a mission in New Zealand.


  • Christensen’s teammate and fellow Latter-day Saint, veteran offensive lineman Austin Corbett (Nevada), will start the season on the “reserve/physically unable to perform” list after suffering an ACL tear in last season’s finale.

       The Church convert hopes to return to the Panthers’ lineup in a few weeks. ​​


  • Leki Fotu (Utah), begins his fourth season for the Arizona Cardinals. The defensive tackle made nine starts in 2022.


  • After being drafted in the 4th round by the Indianapolis Colts earlier this year, former BYU offensive lineman Blake Freeland is now an NFL rookie charged with protecting fellow "Rook" QB Anthony Richardson.                                   Freeland’s Colt teammate is fellow Latter-day Saint Matt Gay.


  • Former college soccer star and returned missionary Matt Gay (Utah) has established himself as one of the premier kickers in the NFL.

       Gay was signed by the Indianapolis Colts earlier this year.


  • Hawaii native Alohi Gilman (Notre Dame/Navy) returns to the  Los Angeles Chargers for his fourth NFL season. Gilman started five games last season and snagged an interception. 


  • Former BYU QB Jaren Hall will play his rookie season for the Minnesota Vikings. The returned missionary took every snap during the Vikings’ final preseason game, showcasing the athleticism he displayed in Provo. 


  • In 2022, Taysom Hill  (BYU) passed, ran and caught multiple touchdowns, while also contributing on special teams for the New Orleans Saints. The returned missionary is a seven-year NFL vet.


  • Backup safety Dallin Leavitt (Utah State/BYU) is playing in his fifth NFL season, plying his trade on the “frozen tundra” of Green Bay’s  Lambeau Field.. He intercepted a tipped pass during the 2023 preseason.


  • Rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua (BYU/Washington) made the Los Angeles Rams opening day roster following an impressive preseason. 

        The Utahn was selected by the Rams in the 5th round of the 2023 NFL draft.


  • Third-year wide receiver Dax Milne (BYU) is expected to return punts for the Washington Commanders in 2023. The South Jordan, Utah, native was originally a walk-on at BYU.


  • After playing four games as a rookie, linebacker Nephi Sewell (Utah) begins his sophomore campaign for the New Orleans Saints. He will be one of three Sewell brothers (along with Penei and Noah) on an NFL roster in 2023.


  • If Chicago Bears’ linebacker Noah Sewell (Oregon) has questions about navigating his NFL rookie season, his older brothers Nephi and Penei can provide the answers. Both of Noah’s brothers were recent rookies.


  • Just 22-years-old and already one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL, Detroit Lions tackle/Latter-day Saint Penei Sewell (Oregon) has started every game of his young career.

  • Former BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki’s fourth year with the Cleveland Browns in 2022 ended prematurely when he suffered a season-ending torn ACL in early December. Prior to the injury, he was enjoying a career-best year for the Browns.


  • Defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga started two games and was a key contributor for the Minnesota Vikings in 2022. Tonga served a mission in Kansas.


  • Regarded by many as the NFL’s top linebacker, Fred Warner (BYU) already seems a lock for the league’s Hall of Fame. The San Francisco 49er notched 67 solo tackles and a pair of sacks in 2022.


  • Los Angeles Rams defensive end Jonah Williams (Weber State) will be entering his third NFL season in 2023. Williams served a mission in Sao Paulo, Brazil.


  • Zach Wilson is part of the NFL’s most discussed quarterback rooms in 2023 following the New York Jets’ off-season acquisition of legend Aaron Rodgers. A former BYU star, Wilson was the NFL’s #2 draft pick in 2021.


  • Derek Wright (Utah State/Snow College) spent his rookie season in 2022 on the Carolina Panthers practice squad. Now he is part of the team’s wide receiving corps for 2023.


Missing anyone on our list of Latter-day Saints in the NFL in 2023? Please let us know.

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