(KMOV) -- Here is a look at a few of the former Mizzou stars that are making noise in the NFL.
Justin Smith - The former defensive end at MU was drafted 4th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2001 NFL draft. He spent his first 7 seasons there before signing a six-year, $45 million contract with the San Francisco 49'ers this March. Smith had 43.5 sacks during his time in Cincinnati and has 1 so far in 2008 with his new team.
Justin Gage - The wide receiver was selected by the Chicago Bears in the 5th round of the 2003 NFL Draft. Gage is one of the Tigers memorable two-sport athletes as he played on Quinn Snyder's basketball teams. Gage played four unnoticeable seasons in the Windy City before signing with the Tennessee Titans, where his career has taken off. In 2007, his first season with the team, Gage caught 55 balls, eclipsing his previous high of 31 in 2005. Gage has 7 catches and a touchdown for the Titans this season, who are 2-0.
Brad Smith - One of the more productive quarterbacks to ever play for MU, Smith is now a wide receiver for the New York Jets. The Jets drafted Smith in the 4th round of the 2006 NFL Draft. 2008 is Smith's 3rd year with the team and he is yet to catch a pass from new quarterback Brett Favre. Smith had 32 catches and 2 touchdowns for last season.
Will Franklin - Selected in the 4th round of this year's draft, Franklin is yet to play a game for his new team, the Kansas City Chiefs. The St. Louis native has been bothered with knee problems, but was a full participant in Wednesday's practice and is on the Chiefs active roster.
Martin Rucker - The former Tigers tight end was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 4th round of this year's draft. He is yet to play but like Franklin, is on the active roster. Rucker signed a 4-year contract with the team in July. Ironically, Rucker will have to wait behind Kellen Winslow Jr. for playing time at TE. Winslow is the son of Kellen Winslow Sr., who is an NFL Hall of Famer after playing his college ball for MU.
This list would not be complete without remembering the late Damien Nash, who was drafted by the Titans in 2005 as a running back. Nash died in St. Louis while playing in a charity basketball game last year.
A few current Tigers can expect to hear their names called in April at the 2009 NFL Draft. Tight end Chase Coffman and DB William Moore have been mentioned as possible 1st round picks.
Michael Bittner is a journalism student at Mizzou