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Santa Clarita goes Sunday

Former SCV talents played on NFl teams this year

Posted: January 1, 2014 9:00 p.m.
Updated: January 1, 2014 9:00 p.m.
Former Valencia Viking and current New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen runs into the end zone for a touchdown on Dec. 29. Former Valencia Viking and current New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen runs into the end zone for a touchdown on Dec. 29.
Former Valencia Viking and current New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen runs into the end zone for a touchdown on Dec. 29.

The Santa Clarita Valley’s football culture extends beyond the tradition of the Foothill League, and there are a handful of professional athletes to show for it.

From Seattle to New York, many players with ties to the Santa Clarita Valley suited up on Sundays this year, with a few even headed to the playoffs with their teams.

Here’s what our local pros in the National Football League did in 2013.

Caylin Hauptmann — Seattle Seahawks, offensive lineman

The former College of the Canyons player has yet to play for Seattle this season, but he’s been on the team since he officially signed with it on Sept. 23. Hauptmann, a rookie tackle out of Florida International who played for COC in 2009, started the season with the Cleveland Browns. Though he played in all four preseason games for the Browns, he was cut from the team after training camp.

 Delano Howell — Indianapolis Colts, safety

In his second year in the NFL, the Hart High graduate has worked in and out of the Colts’ lineup. The 24-year-old free safety and former Stanford University player appeared in six games and started three. He made 19 total tackles and knocked down two passes for Indianapolis, who signed him off the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad late last season. Howell and the Colts finished 11-5 for the regular season and won the AFC South Division, which earned them a home wild-card playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs this Saturday at 1:35 p.m. Under his three-year rookie contract, Howell is set to become a free agent after the 2014 season.

Marquis Jackson — Minnesota Vikings, defensive end

Jackson, a former College of the Canyons and Portland State player, was cut from the Vikings in training camp after signing with the team as an undrafted free agent.

Troy Nolan — Tampa Bay Buccaneers, safety

This past offseason, Nolan signed with Tampa Bay before the start of training camp, but ultimately didn’t make the regular season roster. The former COC Cougar has played three years in the NFL, but never became a consistent starter.

Matt Moore — Miami Dolphins, quarterback

Moore has spent the season as backup for starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. His only action this year came late in a game on Dec. 22 against the Buffalo Bills when Tannehill left the game with a minor knee injury.

Moore finished 2-for-6 for 53 yards and two interceptions in the small amount of play time. The 29-year-old Hart graduate signed a two-year deal with the Dolphins in March reportedly worth $8 million.

Domata Peko — Cincinnati Bengals, defensive tackle

Peko continues to be a mainstay on the Bengals’ defensive front in his eighth year with the team. The 29-year-old ex-COC and Michigan State player recorded 52 tackles and three sacks while starting all 16 regular-season games this year. Peko will enter the postseason with the Bengals, who host the San Diego Chargers on Sunday at 10 a.m. in the wild-card round. Peko’s current seven-year contract with Cincinnati runs through the 2014 season.

Jason Pierre-Paul — New York Giants, defensive tackle

Injuries plagued Pierre-Paul this season and resulted in a career-low two sacks to go with 27 tackles, four pass breakup and an interception in 11 games and six starts. The former COC Cougar had back surgery in the offseason that kept him out of most of training camp, and his season was cut short by a shoulder injury suffered Nov. 10 against the Oakland Raiders. Pierre-Paul went on to play the next two games but eventually was kept out the final five games of the year. His season highlight came on Nov. 17 against the Green Bay Packers when he returned an interception 24 yards for his second career touchdown. Pierre-Paul is under contract through the 2015 season.

Mychal Rivera — Oakland Raiders, tight end

The sixth-round draft pick worked out well for the Raiders in his rookie year. Rivera, who played at COC and Tennesee before coming to the NFL, was third on the team in catches (38) and receiving yards (407). He also had four touchdowns grabs in his 16 games of action, three of which were starts. Rivera’s four-year rookie contract is up following the 2016 season.

Isaac Sopoaga — Philadelphia Eagles, defensive tackle

After spending each of his first nine seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Sopoaga played for two different teams this year. The veteran nose tackle and former COC player played his first eight games of the season with the Philadelphia Eagles before being dealt to the Patriots just before the NFL trade deadline on Oct. 29. Since then, Sopoaga has played six games with two starts and made just one tackle. He was inactive for New England’s last two games. As the Patriots prepare for the playoffs beginning in two weeks due to earning a first-round bye, Sopoaga remains in the first year of his three-year, $11 million contract.

Shane Vereen — New England Patriots, running back

Despite missing half the regular season due to injury, 2013 has been the most productive of Vereen’s three years in the NFL. The 24-year-old Valencia High graduate and former University of California, Berkeley player is third on the Patriots with 427 receiving yards on 47 catches.

He also has 44 rushes for 208 yards. Vereen has scored a total of four touchdowns this season. He’s under contract with the Patriots through 2014.


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