The quarterbacks who led South Carolina and Clemson to such great heights were left searching for new NFL homes Saturday, after Connor Shaw and Tajh Boyd both fell victim to cuts.
Former North Charleston High and Newberry College standout Corey Washington, the feel-good story of the NFL this preseason, earned a spot as one of five receivers on the New York Giants' opening day roster.
Washington, who caught four touchdown passes late in games for the Giants, was undrafted but impressed the coaching staff enough to earn a spot.
Washington led the NFL with four touchdown receptions this preseason. He had a total of 10 catches for 155 yards.
Shaw was cut by the Cleveland Browns and Boyd by the New York Jets as both organizations whittled down to a 53-man roster. Shaw went 27-5 as a starter and led the Gamecocks to three consecutive 11-victory seasons, while Boyd set an ACC record for touchdown passes as a senior, and capped his career by leading Clemson to an Orange Bowl victory over Ohio State.
Boyd was a sixth-round pick of the Jets in the NFL draft, while Shaw signed with Cleveland as a free agent. Shaw threw a Hail Mary touchdown pass against Washington in his first preseason game with the Browns, and then ran six times for 20 yards in his final appearance Thursday night against Chicago.
"I feel like I have played well - when I have gotten a chance to play in games - and in practice," Shaw told the Browns website after the Bears game. "Overall, I feel confident. . It's nothing I can control. I'll put it in God's hands."
But on a roster that also included quarterbacks Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel and the recently-added Rex Grossman, Shaw was the odd man out. Boyd found himself in a similar situation, on a Jets roster with quarterbacks Geno Smith, Michael Vick and Matt Simms. He played in two preseason games, and was 7-of-12 passing for 92 yards and a touchdown in his finale Thursday against Philadelphia.
Both players could still end up on a practice squad, or sign with a new team.
Other NFL cuts
For the first time in his career, Champ Bailey was told he isn't good enough.
Jettisoned by the New Orleans Saints after a difficult training camp, the 12-time Pro Bowl cornerback was the most notable name when NFL teams trimmed their rosters to 53 active players Saturday.
A close second was Rams rookie Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.
The seventh-round draft pick, watched as closely as any rookie in the league this summer, couldn't make a team stacked with pass-rushers. He still has a chance to get picked up by another team or to make the Rams' practice squad.
Other notable players who were either waived or released this weekend included:
Jets WR Stephen Hill, a 2012 second-round draft pick out of Georgia Tech who failed to follow in the footsteps of fellow alumni Demaryius Thomas and Calvin Johnson. He finished the past two seasons in IR.
Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the team's top rusher the past two seasons who was made expendable when the team drafted LSU's Jeremy Hill in the second round.
Browns WR Nate Burleson, an 11-year veteran who was slowed by a hamstring injury in camp. The Browns are thin at wide receiver after Pro Bowler Josh Gordon was suspended for the entire 2014 season for another violation of the league's substance-abuse policy.
Jets CB Dimitri Patterson, ending a bizarre week that began when he left the team before its preseason game against the Giants on Aug. 22, leading to a suspension.
Saints Ks Shayne Graham and Derek Dimke. The Saints did not immediately indicate what their intentions were at kicker after cutting both the veteran Graham and the rookie Dimke. But they could have in mind one of a number of proven kickers cut by other clubs, including former South Carolina standout Ryan Succop, who was cut by Kansas City, or Jay Feely, recently cut by the Cardinals.
Five-time Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison announced his retirement on Saturday, saying his desire to play doesn't match the desire to stay home with his family.
Harrison, the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, wrote on his Facebook page he didn't want to miss another birthday or first day of school so he could continue his career.
The 36-year-old was a free agent after spending the 2013 season with the Cincinnati Bengals following a decade with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He met with the Arizona Cardinals earlier in the week, but did not sign a contract.