College connections everywhere as Texans host Bucs

Before you can get to the NFL and play on Sunday, you have to go through college football on Saturday.

Of the many players who suit up for college programs all over the country, a small percentage make it to the National Football League. Once they reach that pinnacle, former college teammates might find themselves on opposite sidesof the field. However, that doesn't mean the bonds formed on campus go away. This week's Texans matchup against the Buccaneers features several collegiate connections, both with the players and the coaching staffs.

Among the list of connections are two of the better defensive players taking the field. Texans defensive Jared Crick once shared the same field with Tampa Bay's Lavonte David back at the University of Nebraska. Since leaving the Cornhuskers, the two former 'Black Shirt' defenders have combined for 13.5 sacks and 551 tackles. You can see them in a picture below.

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Two other defenders share an alma mater, as Houston rookie linebacker Benardrick McKinney and Buccaneers corner Johnthan Banks roamed the field for Mississippi State for a few seasons. After stellar careers in Starkville, the pair became high picks in the NFL Draft (Banks- 1st, McKinney- 2nd). Here's photos from their time under head coach Dan Mullen.

Defensive bonds are at the heart of our final photo collage as well. Back in 2008-09, the UCLA Bruins has two standout players in their secondary. This Sunday at NRG Stadium, those two will meet again. Texans safety Rahim Moore played with Tampa's Alterraun Verner back in their collegiate games, and now are among two of the better pass defenders in the league. You can see the pair rocking their Bruin blue below.

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However, that isn't every college connection this weekend. See the rest below.

-- Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith coached Texans Linebackers Coach Mike Vrabel at Ohio State (1995);
-- Texans RB Alfred Blue played at LSU with Buccaneers LB Kwon Alexander (2012-13) and WR Russell Shepard (2010-12)
-- Texans LB Mike Mohamed played at California with Buccaneers S Chris Conte (2007-10)
-- Texans T Chris Clark played at Southern Mississippi with Buccaneers T DeMar Dotson (2006-08)
-- Texans C Greg Mancz played at Toledo with Buccaneers DE T.J. Fatinikun (2011-12)
-- Texans WR Keith Mumphery played at Michigan State with Buccaneers DE William Gholston (2011-12)
-- Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins played at Clemson with Buccaneers WR Adam Humphries (2011)
-- Texans RB Chris Polk played at Washington with Buccaneers TE Austin Seferian Jenkins (2011)
-- Texans OLB Whitney Mercilus played at Illinois with Buccaneers DT Akeem Spence (2009-11)
-- Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney played at South Carolina with Buccaneers S D.J. Swearinger (2010-12)

The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 4/8/2021)

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