20+ Latter-day Saints Who Are Playing in the NFL This Season (and How They're Sharing Their Faith)

Taysom Hill, the once injury-prone BYU quarterback, is now making his way in the NFL as a jack-of-all-trades.

The New Orleans Saints' coaches and players have embraced Hill for his willingness to be a utility man. One teammate, Saints' defensive end Cam Jordan, even nicknamed him "The Swiss Army Knife."

New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) scores a touchdown in front of Washington Redskins linebacker Mason Foster (54) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)

"He does everything. What doesn't he do?" Jordan recently told theadvocate.com. "I saw him get coach Sean his coffee the other day. I'm just saying. There's nothing he can't do."

The Pocatello, Idaho, native suffered three season-ending injuries while at Brigham Young University. Yet, in his second NFL season, Hill, listed as the third-string quarterback, has taken snaps and scored touchdowns, played receiver and made tackles on special teams. He's willing to do whatever he can to help the team, he said in the same article.

"Obviously, carrying three quarterbacks, you have a dead roster spot," the 27-year-old said. "So, if I can add value, I'm all for it. First and foremost, I love to play quarterback. But I love to compete and I love to be on the field. Any opportunity to get on the field, I'm never going to complain about."

Hill is one of more than 20 players on NFL rosters this season who are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Faith is a topic that has come up often, Hill said in a 2018 interview with the Deseret News.

"I had many opportunities to explain what I believed in, whether it was with Green Bay or New Orleans. I was the butt of a lot of jokes, not about my faith, but about my age. My age is what it is because I chose to serve a mission, and . . . there was definitely a lot of conversations about that," Hill said. "Although there were a lot of jokes about it, I never felt like people were being disrespectful. I never felt that people were attacking me or my faith. I don’t know how much you know about Drew (Brees) or Chase (Daniel) specifically, but both of those guys are faithful guys. They have a really strong faith and are Christians and read the Bible. It was really unique and a cool opportunity to be in the QB room with those guys."

The rest of the Latter-day Saint pro football list ranges from active players to practice squad teammates and guys on the injured reserve.

Active players

Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, Detroit Lions: The former BYU defensive end from Ghana has battled injuries for the last three seasons. He has been limited this season, but told the Detroit Free Press he hopes to return to action soon.

"I wouldn’t wish (what I’ve gone through) upon nobody," Ansah said in the article. "I’m just happy that I’ve been better over the weeks and I’m just looking forward to keep improving."

Isaac Asiata, Miami Dolphins: The former Utah lineman who served a mission in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was recently activated from the practice squad and played last Sunday against Green Bay.

Tony Bergstrom, Washington Redskins: Since being drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2012, Bergstrom, who served a mission in Sacramento, California, has bounced around the league with the Houston Texans, the Arizona Cardinals and the Baltimore Ravens before landing in Washington this season.

The native Utahn was drafted as an offensive lineman out of the University of Utah.

Vince Biegel, New Orleans Saints: Biegel was recently quoted in the Wisconsin State Journal as saying it was a blessing to be cut by Green Bay so he could join the Saints.

New Orleans Saints' Vince Biegel celebrates during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

"For me, the way I look at it, I’m thankful Green Bay brought me into the league," Biegel said. "In a way, that was a gift from the Lord because that was a year I got to enjoy with my family and friends and that’ll always be etched in our minds as a great year. From this point on, it’s a business now. I’m playing for the New Orleans Saints, I love it down here, but I have to understand that it’s truly a business."

The second-year linebacker from Wisconsin, whose father Rocky Biegel played at BYU, started out on New Orleans' practice squad but was activated by Week 3.

Garett Bolles, Denver Broncos: Bolles, who served a mission in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been a starter on the Bronco's offensive line this season after being drafted in 2017 out of Utah. Find out more about Garett Bolles' incredible story of faith here.
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Denver Broncos offensive tackle Garett Bolles (72) during an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

John Denney, Miami Dolphins: Denney, who served a mission in New Jersey, continues to handle the long-snapping duties for the Dolphins. The former BYU defensive end has been with the Dolphins since 2005.

Kyler Fackrell, Green Bay Packers: The former Utah State linebacker is in his third season with the Packers and seeing regular playing time. He hopes to show significant improvement this season, he told the Journal Times.

“I wouldn’t say ‘make or break,’ but I definitely think there’s a high sense of urgency for me to produce and just improve and get better every day,” Fackrell said. “I do try to keep a calm demeanor, but there’s no doubt since Day 1 I’ve felt pressure. You always feel pressure to perform. So yeah, I think there’s pressure (this year). There’s pressure now as much as there has been."

Tyler Larsen, Carolina Panthers: The former USU lineman is in his third season with Carolina. In August, the Panthers signed Larsen to a 2-year contract extension for $4.4 million.

Carolina Panthers' Tyler Larsen (69) makes his way onto the field before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. The Panthers won 20-17. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

Haloti Ngata, Philadelphia Eagles: The veteran defensive lineman is in his first season with the Eagles. Ngata, who starred at Oregon, has been slowed by minor injuries this year.

Daniel Sorensen, Kansas City Chiefs: The former BYU safety, who served a mission in Costa Rica, is close to returning from an injury that has kept him out all season. The Chiefs are looking forward to getting him back, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton told arrowheadpride.com.

Oakland Raiders tight end Jared Cook (87) makes a 29-yard touchdown pass over Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Daniel Sorensen (49) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

“It’s great to have him back,” Sutton said. “I know its been a long, long haul for Dan, and Dan’s one of these guys on your team that probably doesn’t get as much recognition as he deserves because he does a lot of jobs for us and allows us a lot of flexibility on defense. He was our top blitzer, he can play down in the box, he can play back if we wanted to change the matchups and so that was like having two players (return) — kind of, if you could picture it, so I’m excited that one, he’s getting a chance to get back and see how it goes.”

Xavier Su’a-Filo, Dallas Cowboys: After four seasons with the Houston Texans and a brief stop in Tennessee, Su'a-Filo is now playing for the Cowboys. Su'a-Filo served a Spanish-speaking mission in Florida and Alabama. The offensive lineman was drafted out of UCLA.

Sam Tevi, LA Chargers: The Texas native is in his second season with the Chargers. The former Ute is an offensive lineman.

Kyle Van Noy, New England Patriots: The former BYU linebacker has found a home in New England and was recently featured in the Boston Herald. Van Noy's move to the Patriots has been a "blessing," he said in the article.

Last year, Van Noy signed a two-year, $11.7 million contract extension.

Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers: The former BYU standout linebacker is off to a good start with in his rookie year, according to an ESPN.com article.

"He's a film junkie," defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. "You see him eating breakfast and watching tape. He's sitting at a table by himself in the cafeteria and he's got the tape rolling. He's always deep in the film. If he continues to progress the way he is, he does have a bright future."

Eric Weddle, Baltimore Ravens: Now his his third year with the Ravens and his 12th in the NFL, Weddle continues to be a team leader and perform at a high level as a safety. Fans also love the former Ute's beard and engaging personality.

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) tries to run past Baltimore Ravens' Eric Weddle (32) in the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

Weddle elaborated on his NFL career in a Deseret News article in September.

“I’m still surprised when I think about it, when I sit back and look how far I’ve come and how long I’ve played. I’ve been lucky and blessed. I haven’t had many injuries — that’s a big hurdle for a lot of guys — and you have to be good," Weddle said. "I’ve always been driven to be the best. I never backed down, whether it was older kids or a new team. I was never scared, never intimidated, whether people liked me or not. I’m out to prove myself.”

Austin Corbett, Los Angeles Rams: 

After one season with the Cleveland Browns, the former Nevada offensive lineman was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 2019. Corbett is in his first season with the Rams and started the last seven games of the season. 

Corbett credits his professional success to his wife and family. When asked what he was thankful for, Corbett told The Rams Team News, “I mean, definitely, my wife and my family. Without them, I just wouldn't be who I am, so very thankful for my wife. And it really starts with her and then trickles down to my parents, my brother and sister.”

Nate Orchard: The former University of Utah star was cut by Cleveland after training camp and had a short stint with Buffalo before signing with Kansas City in October. He was released on Nov. 6 and may soon join another team.

Before leaving Cleveland, Orchard made headlines for his genuine kindness in helping an elderly woman with her bag at the airport.

Initially, the 70-year-old Judy Krueger said it wasn't necessary, but Orchard insisted, she told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

"He carried my pink-flowered carry-on bag through the airport! Other fans approached him and he was very nice and very pleasant. He answered everyone's questions, including mine," Krueger said. "In the 15 years since my husband died, no one has ever offered to help me with a bag. I have struggled through a lot of airports and no one has ever even noticed or offered to help. . . . Nate Orchard had no cameras watching. He had no reason to be kind to a 70-year-old woman . . . but he took the time to be helpful, patient, kind."

Practice squad

The following players are listed on their respective teams' practice squads: James Cowser, Oakland Raiders; Bronson Kaufusi, NY Jets; Harvey Langi, NY Jets; Dallin Leavitt, Oakland Raiders; and Pita Taumoepenu, San Francisco 49ers.

Injured reserve

Jordan Devey, with the Kansas City Chiefs, and Ricky Ali'ifua, with the Seattle Seahawks, both suffered season-ending injuries and are on injured reserve.
Email: ttoone@deseretnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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