10 NFL players who didn't play college football

Antonio Gates
Antonio Gates
Ian Van Roy

Most think that every NFL player needs to play in college to make it into the league.

While that is usually the case, there are notable examples of players that skipped the classroom before reaching the pros. Here are 10 famous NFL players who didn't play in college.

NFL players who skipped college

#10 - Vince Papale, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Vince Papale
Vince Papale

Disney made a movie about Papale's story called "Invincible" and stars Mark Wahlberg. Papale was a part-time bartender when he got an opportunity to try out for the Philadelphia Eagles. His career began in 1976 and played in the NFL until 1978. At that time, Papale played in 41 games. Vince Papale is 75.

#9 - Lawrence Okoye, DE, San Francisco 49ers

Lawrence Okoye never played in college, but made it to the San Francisco 49ers for a brief stay. He never saw the field but did bounce around a few practice squads until 2017 before he was washed out of the league. Lawrence Okoye will turn 30 this year.

#8 - Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers

Antonio Gates
Antonio Gates

While Antonio Gates did attend college, he only played basketball. Arguably the best NFL player to never play football in college, Gates played from 2003 to 2018 as a tight end. He racked up 236 appearances, over 11000 career yards, 116 touchdowns, and 955 catches. Antonio Gates will turn 41 this year.

#7 - Ray Seals, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

One of the more famous players, Ray Seals never played football in college but somehow snuck his way into the NFL. He played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1989 to 1993 as a defensive end and a nose tackle.

He later played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1994 to 1995. He didn't see the field in 1996 but played 14 games for the Carolina Panthers before retiring at 32 years old. Ray Seals will turn 56 later this year.

#6 - Saverio Rocca, P, Philadelphia Eagles

Saverio Rocca
Saverio Rocca

According to, Saverio Rocca played a version of football in Australia before migrating to the United States. He played his rookie season at 34.

He went on to punt for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins before retiring in 2013. Saverio Rocca will turn 48 later this year.

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Edited by Jay Lokegaonkar

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