Former Red Wolves hope to land on NFL rosters as 2023 Rookie Minicamps get underway

Arkansas State QB James Blackman is one of 3 former Red Wolves who signed with an NFL team as...
Arkansas State QB James Blackman is one of 3 former Red Wolves who signed with an NFL team as an undrafted free agent.(Source: KAIT)
Published: Apr. 29, 2023 at 7:06 PM CDT|Updated: May. 12, 2023 at 10:40 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

James Blackman will have a shot to stick on an NFL roster. The Arkansas State quarterback has inked a deal as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins. The team made the signing official Friday.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero first reported the news April 29.

Blackman lined up under center for two seasons at Arkansas State, recording 3,815 passing yards and 25 total touchdowns to 7 interceptions over 19 games in 2021 and 2022.

Going under an hour and a half away from his hometown in South Bay, the 6-5 Florida native has accounted for over 9,000 passing yards and 65 touchdowns in his six-year college career.

Blackman transferred to A-State after four seasons at Florida State. He came to Jonesboro tied for 10th in FSU history with 40 touchdown passes. Blackman is top 15 in completions (433), passing yards (5,445), total offense (5,417) and 300 yard passing games (3). Blackman played in 32 games for the Seminoles from 2017-2020.

The Dolphins were one of several teams in Jonesboro for Arkansas State’s Pro Day back in March. Blackman will look to earn a spot in a quarterback room currently occupied by starter Tua Tagovailoa and backups Mike White and Skylar Thompson.

James is the first Red Wolf to sign as a UDFA since defensive tackle Forrest Merrill signed with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2021. Arkansas State hasn’t had a player selected in the NFL Draft since Ryan Carrethers (Chargers) in 2014.

Another former Red Wolf will join Blackman in Miami. Offensive tackle Jarrett Horst also inked a deal with the Dolphins. NFL Draft Diamonds and Simon Clancy first reported the signing. The former are scouting directors for the Hula Bowl, an All-Star Game Horst played in January.

Horst played 2 seasons at Arkansas State, winning the Gary Withrow Award before transferring to Michigan State. He entered the 2020 season on the Outland Trophy Watch List and was named a member of the preseason All-Sun Belt First Team. He started 15 games from 2021-2022 at Michigan State.

Another former Red Wolf also inked a UDFA deal with an NFL team. Notre Dame kicker Blake Grupe is heading to New Orleans, he signed with the Saints.

Grupe is Arkansas State’s all-time points leader (445), kicking the most field goals (78) in school history from 2018-2021. He transferred to Notre Dame in 2022, where he went 14-19 and was a perfect 49-49 on extra points.

Blackman, Horst and Grupe aren’t the only Red Wolves from the 2023 draft class looking to crack an NFL roster. Defensive end and linebacker Kivon Bennett will attend the Atlanta Falcons’ rookie minicamp beginning in May, Kivon told KAIT. NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe was first to report.

Kivon did it all in his two years at A-State, getting named All-Sun Belt in both seasons, but he played most of last season on a torn meniscus. He was fully cleared in early March.

After transferring to A-State from Tennessee, Bennett had 108 tackles, 26 tackles for a loss (3rd most in the Sun Belt in that span), 13.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Four more Red Wolves received rookie minicamp invites. Sources tell KAIT wide receiver Te’Vailance Hunt received an invite to the Chiefs rookie minicamp and offensive lineman Jordan Rhodes was invited to the Saints. Pelissero also reports quarterback Logan Bonner was invited to the Colts’ camp. Former Red Wolf and Razorback Terry Hampton is on the Falcons rookie minicamp roster.

Hunt recorded 910 receiving yards and 9 scores on 67 receptions in 19 games over the last two seasons for the Red Wolves.

Rhodes came to Jonesboro last season after spending four years between South Carolina and Ole Miss. He picked up steam during the draft process, earning a private workout with the Cincinnati Bengals and a top-30 visit with the Denver Broncos.

Bonner, one of the older players in the class at 25, played four seasons at A-State, saw the most playing time in 2020 before playing his last two seasons with former head coach Blake Anderson at Utah State.

Hampton had 25 tackles and 3.5 tackles for a loss in 13 games (3 starts) in his only season at Arkansas in 2022. He played 4 seasons at A-State prior to that, setting a career-high 35 tackles, 6 TFL and 2 sacks in 2020.

Former Red Wolves in 2023 NFL Rookie Minicamp:

QB James Blackman (Dolphins, UDFA)

OL Jarrett Horst (Dolphins, UDFA)

K Blake Grupe (Saints, UDFA)

OL Jordan Rhodes (Saints, tryout)

LB Kivon Bennett (Falcons, tryout)

DT Terry Hampton (Falcons, tryout)

WR Te’Vailance Hunt (Chiefs, tryout)

QB Logan Bonner (Colts, tryout)