Luke Del Rio was recently named the starting quarterback of the Florida Gators, and when the news broke, it struck a chord for three entirely different reasons. One, Del Rio will be the ninth different person to take snaps for the Florida Gators since Tim Tebow left following the 2009 season (yikes!). Two, it brings the “Del Rio” name to the forefront for football fans, as Luke’s dad Jack tries to lead the Raiders to their first playoff appearance in over a decade. And three, it raises an interesting question: Who are the other big-name, second-generation (aka son of a former athlete) football players in the country this year? Here’s our list of 15.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (son of 3x Super Bowl champ Ed McCaffrey)
The younger McCaffrey’s exploits are well-known by now after he broke Barry Sanders’ NCAA all-purpose yardage record last year, with 3,864 total yards, on his way to finishing second in Heisman Trophy voting. In the process, he also looked a lot like his dad Ed, a 13-year NFL vet, who won three Super Bowl rings as a wide receiver with both the Giants and Broncos. By the way, the McCaffrey name should stay on this list long after Christian leaves for the NFL (likely after this season). His brother, and Ed’s younger son, Dylan is a five-star quarterback recruit in the class of 2017 and already committed to Michigan.
Getty ImagesDavid Madison
Barry Sanders Jr., RB, Oklahoma State (son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders)
The irony of McCaffrey breaking Sanders’ NCAA all-purpose yardage record is that he had to move past Sanders’ son, Barry Jr., on the depth chart to get all those touches. That’s also why -- with McCaffrey firmly entrenched in Palo Alto -- Sanders Jr. decided to transfer to Oklahoma State, his father’s alma mater, for his final season of eligibility. We’re guessing he’ll have trouble topping Barry Sr.’s final year in Stillwater, where he rushed for 2,850 yards (including a staggering 237.5 yards per game) on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy in 1988. Oh, and if you didn’t hear, the elder Sanders had a pretty good pro career too, leading the NFL in rushing four times while making 10 Pro Bowl appearances.
Shane Buechele, QB, Texas (son of former Major Leaguer Steve Buechele)
If you’re not familiar with the younger Buechele, you better learn his name quickly. The true freshman will almost certainly be starting for the Longhorns in Week 1 and is already being touted as a future star. As for the older Buechele, he had a solid 10-year Major League career, which included 18 home runs during the 1991 season.
Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech (son of former Major Leaguer Pat Mahomes)
Keeping with the baseball-player-has-a-QB son theme, meet Patrick Mahomes, who is not only Texas Tech’s starting quarterback but in my opinion the most underrated player in the country. He finished last year with 46 total touchdowns, ranked fourth nationally in passing yards and would have been a true Heisman contender if his defense wasn’t as abysmal as it was. Mahomes is of course the son of Pat Mahomes, who played in the big leagues from 1992 to 2003, tallying 43 total wins.
Trey Griffey, WR, Arizona (son of Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.)
The younger Griffey could be in for a breakout season after missing six games last year with injury. When he was fully healthy two years ago, Griffey tallied 31 total catches, helping Arizona win their first ever Pac-12 South title. Still, Griffey will always be best known as “the son of Ken Griffey Jr.,” the Baseball Hall of Famer who finished his career with 630 career home runs and sported the coolest backwards hat in sports history.
Getty ImagesThearon W. Henderson
Torii Hunter Jr., WR, Notre Dame (son of former Major League All-Star Torii Hunter)
Like Griffey, the name says it all for Hunter, the Irish wide receiver and son of the former big leaguer with the same first name. Torii Sr. was of course one of the game’s best center fielders over an 18-year career, which included five All-Star game appearances and nine gold gloves overall. As for Torii Jr., he should be Notre Dame’s go-to receiver in 2016 after tallying 28 catches for two touchdowns last year. Oh, and if football doesn’t work, Hunter Jr. always has baseball to fall back on. He was a 23rd round pick of the Angels last spring.
Nicco Fertitta, S, Notre Dame (son of former UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta)
Ok, this one is a tiiiiiiiny bit of a stretch, since the elder Fertitta was never technically a professional athlete. Then again, it’s my list, and I can do whatever I want! In terms of their actual athletic prowess, the younger Fertitta redshirted last year, after helping Bishop Gorman High School to a mythical national championship in 2014 (where he teamed with Snoop Dogg’s son, Cordell Broadus). As for his dad? He’s just a tiny bit richer than he was a month ago, when he sold his stake of the UFC.
Zuffa LLC via Getty ImagesJeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
Kahlil McKenzie, DT, Tennessee (son of former NFL star and current Raiders’ GM Reggie McKenzie)
The younger McKenzie followed in his father’s footsteps to Rocky Top, where he played in all 13 games as a true freshman last year, tallying one sack and one tackle for loss. That came over 30 years after his father was himself a Vol before an NFL career that spanned from 1985-1992. Still, the elder McKenzie may be best known as the current GM of the Oakland Raiders. He is the mastermind behind the team’s resurgence and of course the man who hired current head coach Jack Del Rio. Speaking of which ...
Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
Luke Del Rio, QB, Florida (son of Super Bowl champion and Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio)
As mentioned above, it could be a big year for the Del Rio family, as Luke was named the starting quarterback at Florida after transferring from Oregon State and Jack is in charge of one of the most exciting young teams in the NFL. It's good to be a Del Rio.
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Bryan Cox Jr., DE, Florida (son of former Pro Bowl linebacker Bryan Cox)
Cox Jr. has simply been a revelation for the Gators’ the last few years as a disruptive pass rusher who tallied 10.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks last season. That’s no surprise given who his father is: Current Falcons D-Line coach Bryan Cox, who was one of the most feared pass rushers of his day, making three Pro Bowls during his 11-year career.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY SportsMarvin Gentry
Hardy Nickerson Jr., LB, Illinois (son of five-time Pro Bowler Hardy Nickerson Sr.)
Arguably the coolest father-son combo in college football this year, Nickerson Jr. actually led Cal with 112 tackles last year before announcing he would attend Illinois as a graduate transfer this fall. Why Illinois? It’s because that’s where his father, Hardy Nickerson Sr., was hired as Lovie Smith’s defensive coordinator after playing in the NFL for 16 seasons.
Tim Irvin, DB, East Carolina; Michael Irvin II, TE, Miami (sons of Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin)
They say “The U invented swag,” and former Miami Hurricane Michael Irvin might have perfected it during an NFL career that included five Pro Bowl appearances and three Super Bowl wins with the Cowboys. Michael’s son Michael II will try to recreate that magic in Coral Gables, while Irvin’s other son Tim recently transferred to East Carolina, after spending his freshman year at Auburn.
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Tyrone Wheatley Jr., TE, Michigan (son of former Michigan star and Top 10 NFL pick Tyrone Wheatley)
Wheatley Sr. is one of the most established players in Michigan football history, finishing as a three-time first-team All-Big Ten member in a career that spanned from 1991-95. He never had quite as much success in the pros, although he did tally a 1,000-yard season rushing for the Raiders back in 2000. Now retired from the league, he is back in Ann Arbor, where he is the Wolverines’ running backs coach. His son Tyrone Jr. is a redshirt tight end on the team who should see his first game action this fall.
Getty ImagesMitchell Layton
Devin Bush Jr., LB, Michigan (son of former Super Bowl champ Devin Bush Sr.)
After winning three ACC championships as a member of the Florida State Seminoles in the mid-1990’s, Bush graduated to the NFL where he played in two Super Bowls, winning one with the Rams in the early 2000’s. He’s now a defensive analyst at Michigan, where his son Devin Jr. signed on as a four-star member of Michigan’s 2016 recruiting class earlier this year.
Darius Hamilton, DE, Rutgers (son of Pro Bowl defensive end Keith Hamilton)
The elder Hamilton spent his entire 11-year career with the Giants, where he helped the team make one Super Bowl and earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2000. His son Darius is coming off an injury-plagued 2015 season but was a bright spot for the Scarlet Knights in 2014, tallying 11.5 tackles for loss.