Featuring 155 players representing 88 schools, this season’s Super Bowl rosters span from Alabama to Wisconsin with stops at North Carolina A&T, Weber State, Colorado and other programs off the beaten path in college football.
That could leave viewers with no radical interest between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs with something — or someone, more accurately — to root for when the two teams meet Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona.
For example, Texas Tech fans can pull hard for the Eagles and sophomore cornerback and special teams star player Zech McPhearson. The fan base might also be rooting for Kansas City and quarterback Patrick Mahomes, I guess.
Georgia and LSU have placed at least one player in the Super Bowl 22 years and counting, the longest active streaks in college football. The Tigers’ sole 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 has had at least one former player in 26 consecutive Super Bowls from 1993 to 2019.
Including those listed on the injured reserve or 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 those two lists. Regardless of who wins between the Eagles and Chiefs, it’s shaping up to be a solid Super Bowl Sunday for those seven programs.
Kansas City: DE Carlos Dunlap, WR Kadarius Toney, P Tommy Townsend, RB La’Mical Perine.
Philadelphia: WR Tyrie Cleveland, S CJ Gardner-Johnson, OT Fred Johnson.
Dunlap joined Kansas City in the offseason and had 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 big role in deciding the Super Bowl. That includes Pro Bowl selections Brown and Humphrey for Kansas City and, on the other side, Hurts. (It could also be counted with Alabama, where he spent his first three college seasons, which would give the Crimson Tide four Super Bowl reps.) Johnson is one of the most accomplished linemen in franchise history — not bad for the l ‘former Kilgore College backup quarterback.
State of Florida (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 a school. That includes Nnadi, who returned to the Super Bowl for the third time in his five-year career. This is one of the school records set by former Pittsburgh defenseman JT 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 catches in the AFC Championship game before aggravating the injury again. He is sixth on the team with 25 receptions despite him having lost nine games. The Super Bowl will also feature three former defending champions Georgia who have yet to carve out big NFL roles: Herring has been inactive for most of the season while Davis and Dean rotate as backups.
Kansas City: DE Frank Clark, DE Mike Danna, QB Chad Henne.
Philadelphia: DE Brandon Graham.
Clark threw down a sack against Cincinnati to give him 13 in his postseason career, third most in NFL history. Henne was drafted way back in 2008 and made just one start since 2015, but he stepped up for the Chiefs in the divisional round, filling in for an injured Mahomes and throwing for a touchdown in the win against Jacksonville. For the Eagles, Graham had a season-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 defensive backs in franchise history: Graham ranks fourth among the Eagles in career sacks (70) and Cox fifth (65). Slay earned Pro Bowl honors for the second year in a row. Gay ranks fourth in 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 defensemen in college football history. Three more recent Cornhuskers make their Super Bowl debuts. Jurgens had 35 offensive snaps as a rookie but is expected to move up to the starting role next season.