The Coastal Carolina University football program had four players wrap up the 2008 regular season, two of them starters, with two of them still alive in the postseason with Carolina and San Diego.
Tyler Thigpen (Kansas City Chiefs)
After staring off the season on the bench, injuries forced the former Chanticleer All-American into the starting lineup in week two against the Oakland Raiders, and took over the reigns of the Chiefs offense on a permanent basis against the New York Jets on Oct. 26. In the 28-24 loss, Thigpen completed 25-of-36 passes, throwing for 280 yards and a pair of scores.
Thigpen lead the Chiefs to his first win as a starter on Nov. 30 in a 20-13 defeat of the Oakland Raiders. The signal-caller completed 15-of-22 passes for 162 yards, and also rushed for 48 yards on 11 carries.
One of only three second-year starting quarterbacks in the NFL, he started 11 of the 14 games he played in and finished the season with 230 completions, 2,608 passing yards, and 18 touchdown passes, which ranked 13th in the NFL and seventh in the AFC. With the Chiefs resorting back to a modified spread offense after naming Thigpen the starter, he used his legs to lead the league in rushing yards for a quarterback. On the season, he totaled 386 yards on 62 carries with three scores.Mike Tolbert (San Diego Chargers) Serving primarily as the lead-blocker for All-Pro tailback LaDainian Tomlinson, the un-drafted free agent quickly earned praise for his versatility and for “having a great attitude,” according to the centerpiece of the Chargers rushing attack. Helping the Chargers to a NFL playoff berth, Tolbertearned starts in seven of his first 13 games of action prior to a shoulder injury sidelining him for several games and limiting his action in others.
On the season, Tolbert saw equal opportunities as both a runner and a receiver, with 13 rushes and 13 receptions for the AFC Western Division Champions. In a 30-10 defeat of the New England Patriots on Oct. 12, the fullback had a season-high five rushes for 15 yards. His season highlight came in a 39-38 loss to the Denver Broncos in week two, as he caught a 67 yard pass from quarterback Phillip Rivers. Tolbert scored his first professional touchdown the following week on a one-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter, giving the bolts the 10-7 lead and the eventual 48-29 win.
Quinton Teal (Carolina Panthers)
Jerome Simpson (Cincinnati Bengals)
Simpson entered his rookie season after being the highest drafted player in Coastal Carolina University history (46th overall), and the second Coastal Carolina player to be drafted in program history. He played six games, and missed three games due to injury. Simpson burst onto the scene in week two of the preseason against the Detroit Lions on Aug. 17 where he caught five balls for 114 yards. He had his first regular-season NFL catch as well as a kickoff return for eight yards in a 38-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 19.