With 155 players representing 88 schools, this season’s Super Bowl rosters go from Alabama to Wisconsin with pit stops at North Carolina A&T, Weber State, Colorado and other programs off college football’s beaten path.
That could leave viewers with no rooting interest between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs with something – or someone, more exactly – to cheer for when the two teams meet on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona.
For example, Texas Tech fans can pull hard for the Eagles and second-year cornerback and special teams standout Zech McPhearson. The fan base could also root for Kansas City and quarterback Patrick Mahomes, I guess.
Georgia and LSU have placed at least one player in the Super Bowl for 22 years and counting, the longest active streaks in college football. The Tigers’ lone representative is Kansas City running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who has been on injured reserve since November. Historically, the longest streak belongs to Nebraska, which had at least one former player in 26 consecutive Super Bowls from 1993-2019.
Including those listed on injured reserve or the practice squad, 37 schools have at least two former players on this year’s Super Bowl rosters and 15 have at least three representatives, including Auburn, Southern California and Washington State.
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Then there’s the short list of schools with at least four players on these two rosters. Regardless of who wins between the Eagles and Chiefs, it’s shaping up to be a solid Super Bowl Sunday for these seven programs.
Kansas City: DE Carlos Dunlap, WR Kadarius Toney, P Tommy Townsend, RB La’Mical Perine.
Philadelphia: WR Tyrie Cleveland, S C.J. Gardner-Johnson, OT Fred Johnson.
Dunlap joined Kansas City in the offseason and chipped in four sacks as part of the Chiefs’ defensive line rotation. Toney injured his ankle in the AFC championship game win against Cincinnati but should be ready for the Super Bowl. For the Eagles, Gardner-Johnson tied for the league lead with six interceptions after being traded by New Orleans in the preseason amid a contract dispute.
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Kansas City: TE Blake Bell, OT Orlando Brown, C Creed Humphrey, LS James Winchester.
Philadelphia: QB Jalen Hurts, OT Lane Johnson, OG Tyrese Robinson.
The Sooners are well-represented on both sides with several players set to play a huge part in deciding the Super Bowl. That includes Pro Bowl selections Brown and Humphrey for Kansas City and, across the sideline, Hurts. (He could also be counted with Alabama, where he spent his first three college seasons, which would give the Crimson Tide four Super Bowl representatives.) Johnson is one of the most accomplished linemen in franchise history – not bad for the former Kilgore College backup quarterback.
Florida State (6)
Kansas City: DE Joshua Kaindoh, DT Derrick Nnadi.
Philadelphia: OT Roderick Johnson, DE Janarius Robinson, DE Josh Sweat, DT Marvin Wilson.
The Seminoles have six players in the big game for the third time, joining Super Bowl XXXVII and Super Bowl XL, and have five defensive linemen, the most of any single position group from one school. That includes Nnadi, who is back in the Super Bowl for the third time in his five-year career. That’s one off the school record set by former Pittsburgh defensive back J.T. Thomas.
Kansas City: WR Mecole Hardman, DE Malik Herring.
Philadelphia: DT Jordan Davis, LB Nakobe Dean.
Hardman missed the second half of the regular season with a pelvis injury but returned to make two grabs in the AFC championship game before reaggravating the injury. He ranks sixth on the team with 25 receptions despite missing nine games. The Super Bowl will also feature three former standouts off Georgia’s defense who have yet to carve out big roles in the NFL: Herring has been inactive for most of the season while Davis and Dean rotate in as backups.
Kansas City: DE Frank Clark, DE Mike Danna, QB Chad Henne.
Philadelphia: DE Brandon Graham.
Clark pulled down a sack against Cincinnati to give him 13 in his postseason career, the third-most in NFL history. Henne was drafted all the way back in 2008 and has made just one start since 2015 but stepped up for the Chiefs in the divisional round, replacing an injured Mahomes and throwing for a touchdown in the win against Jacksonville. For the Eagles, Graham had a career-high 11 sacks during the regular season.
Mississippi State (4)
Kansas City: LB Willie Gay, DT Chris Jones.
Philadelphia: DT Fletcher Cox, S Darius Slay.
All four former Bulldogs are irreplaceable. Cox joins Graham among the most productive defenders in franchise history: Graham ranks fourth among Eagles in career sacks (70) and Cox ranks fifth (65). Slay earned Pro Bowl honors for the second year in a row. Gay ranks fourth on Kansas City in tackles (88) and Jones is a four-time Pro Bowl pick capable of disrupting the Eagles’ offensive flow.
Kansas City: CB Dicaprio Bootle.
Philadelphia: C Cam Jurgens, TE Jack Stoll, DT Ndamukong Suh.
The big name is Suh, now 35, who is chasing a second Super Bowl ring to go with his place among the most decorated defenders in college football history. Three more recent Cornhuskers make their Super Bowl debuts. Jurgens played 35 offensive snaps as a rookie but is expected to climb into the starting role next season.
Story Credit: usatoday.com