Hornet alumni see professional playing time in professional football league


Siany Harts

Four Sacramento State alumni are making a new name for themselves in the USFL. McCloud Bethel-Thompson and Isaiah Hennie become key contributors to their respective teams. (Graphic made in Canva by Siany Harts)

Nathan Cromwell

For many Sacramento State student-athletes, graduation is only the beginning of their athletic careers. 

Several members of the Hornet alumni turned in impressive professional resumes with some of the latest success stories coming from the United States Football League.

The USFL, a spring professional football league, began play April 2022 for players who wish to continue their professional careers, but might not have what it takes to play in the National Football League. 

The USFL was conceived in 1965 by businessman David Dixon who saw a market for a summer football league which would be played during the NFL and college football offseason.The USFL had a brief three season stint in the 1980s, but ultimately collapsed. After some rebranding efforts, the league is back in action and gave some Sac State players a chance to prove themselves professionally.

Many USFL players have experience playing for the NFL and other professional football leagues. There are a variety of other reasons players choose to join the USFL and each Hornet alumnus has their story.

Isaiah Hennie (WR)

During Isaiah Hennie’s four years at Sac State spanning from 2014-2017, he picked up 1,523 yards and 11 touchdowns on 139 catches. Hennie is currently playing wide receiver in the USFL for the Pittsburgh Maulers. 

In week one against the New Orleans Breakers, Hennie had a clutch punt return touchdown to tie the game with under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. 

Hennie is proving to be a valuable return man as he leads the league in punt return yards. He has also racked up 383 all purpose yards through four weeks of action. Hennie is proving to be a multifaceted asset for the Maulers.

Kevin Thomson (QB)

Kevin Thomson is one of two former Sac State star quarterbacks looking to make his mark in the USFL. Thomson is currently playing for the Philadelphia Stars as a backup quarterback.

Before transferring to Washington, Kevin Thomson was putting up numbers as a Hornet. The dual-threat quarterback set the Sac State single-season record for efficiency with a score of 171.80. Thomson played three seasons with the team spanning from 2016-2019. 

He finished his Sac State career with 6,424 passing yards and 52 touchdowns as well as 1,247 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns

Taylor Tappin (T)

After being redshirted his freshman season, Taylor Tappin was an active player at Sac State for four years spanning from 2015-2018. Tappin currently plays for the Houston Gamblers as an offensive tackle. 

During his first season on Sac State’s active roster, he was a reserve offensive lineman and played on special teams. In his second season, he broke into the starting lineup and remained there for the rest of his Sac State career. 

He earned honorable mention all-Big Sky honors as a tackle his senior year which propelled him into a professional career. Tappin has played in the Canadian Football League, the Indoor Football League and The Spring League before landing on a USFL roster. 

McCloud Bethel-Thompson (QB)

McCloud Bethel-Thompson had a long road to be the star quarterback for the New Orleans Breakers. 

He played at Sac State for three seasons from 2008-2010, but injuries plagued his chances of success at Sac State. Since his time as a Hornet, Bethel Thompson has been all over the place. 

In an interview with RJ Young, the Breakers’ starting QB mentioned the importance of having a strong support system behind the scenes to back him on and off the field.

“Sitting behind every football player is a community,” Bethel-Thompson said during the interview. “We go through physical, emotional and spiritual roller coasters. To play this game you gotta be all in. You gotta put your body, mind and soul on the line on a weekly basis.”

From 2011-2016, Bethel-Thompson bounced around NFL practice squads before landing a starting role in the Canadian Football League.

Fast forward to 2023, and Bethel-Thompson finds himself leading the USFL in passing yards with 1,116 through four games. He has also included 6 touchdowns to go along with his league high in yards.