ACC School Alumni Hope To Be Super On Sunday

Super Bowl XLIX features league connections on the field and on the sidelines

GREENSBORO, N.C. ( – A number of former standouts from current ACC schools have already made their mark during this NFL postseason, but a select few will seek a prime spot on the game’s biggest stage on Sunday evening, when the defending champion Seattle Seahawks meet the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.

Former Virginia Tech standout Kam Chancellor delivered the knockout blow for the Seahawks in the Divisional Finals, racing 90 yards following an interception for the game-clinching touchdown versus the Carolina Panthers.

And with Seattle seemingly facing certain defeat against Green Bay in the NFC Finals, quarterback Russell Wilson again worked the magic that has come to be expected by those who followed him at NC State. The Seahawks improbable comeback from 12 points down in fading minutes featured a Wilson trademark scramble and Hail Mary toss for successful two-point conversion, followed by a 35-yard touchdown strike to Jermaine Kearse in overtime that the Seahawks to a 28-22 and a permanent place in NFL lore.

As the Seahawks go after their second straight Lombardi Trophy, Wilson and Chancellor will be joined by other familiar ex-ACC faces in cornerback Byron Maxwell (Clemson), offensive lineman J.R. Sweezy and kicker Steven Hauschka (NC State) and tight end Cooper Helfet (Duke).

The injured reserve list included linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (Boston College) and defensive end Greg Scruggs (Louisville). Offensive lineman Justin Renfrow (Miami) is a member of the Seahawks’ practice squad.

Seattle is seeking to become just the ninth team in history to win back-to-back Super Bowls. But Wilson said he set his sights on a repeat from day one – if not minute one.

“In terms of last year – and this may be kind of a buzzkill for most – but I started thinking about [next] year as soon as I started lowering the trophy down (following  the Super Bowl XLVIII win over the Broncos),”  Wilson said. “It was kind of like, ‘OK, now it’s time to start thinking about next year and what we can do.’ That’s just kind of my mindset. Maybe call me crazy, call me insane, I don't know, but that’s just the way I think … How can I get prepared for the next opportunity?”

The opportunity comes against a New England team that seeks its fourth Super Bowl title in 14 seasons, but its first in nine years.  Shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis (Pitt) and veteran lineman Vince Wilfork (Miami) are defensive mainstays, and long-snapper Danny Aiken (Virginia) figures prominently on special teams.

Rookie center Bryan Stork (Florida State), who played his way into the starting lineup but missed the AFC Final win over Indianapolis with a knee injury, has returned to practice and hopes to be a “go” Sunday night in Glendale.

Current ACC school connections also abound among the Super Bowl coaching ranks.

Seattle head coach Pete Carroll was the defensive coordinator at NC State for three seasons in the early 1980s. While with the Wolfpack, Carroll worked alongside quarterbacks coach Carl Smith, who now holds that same position with the Seahawks.

Seattle’s staff also includes assistant offensive line coach Pat Ruel, a Miami graduate who spent four years as a Hurricanes’ assistant coach following graduation, and Nick Sorensen, who played in the 1999 national championship game at Virginia Tech before playing in the NFL for 10 seasons. Assistant strength and conditioning coach Jamie Yanchar is a Louisville graduate.

New England’ defensive coordinator Matt Patricia spent three years as a Syracuse assistant, and running backs coach Ivan Spears spent a decade coaching the Orange quarterbacks. Special teams coordinator Scott O’Brien held the same same position at Pitt for four seasons (1987-90).

New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia spent three years as a Syracuse assistant, and running backs coach Ivan Spears spent a decade coaching the Orange quarterbacks. Special teams coordinator Scott O’Brien held the same same position at Pitt for four seasons (1987-90). 

Patriots offensive line coach Dave DeGuglieimo began his coaching career at Boston College in 1991, and safeties coach Brian Flores is a 2003 BC graduate and former starting linebacker for the Eagles.

As kickoff nears, New England’s Wilfork says he is more than ready. The former Hurricanes standout willingly chatted with reporters during Thursday’s final media availability prior to kickoff, but it is now “game face” mode as far as he is concerned.

“It’s time to play football,” Wilfork said. “No knock against you guys, but after a while you get kind of restless because you ask the same questions, (and) you’ve got to give the same answers. It’s like ‘go back to the one we did three days ago.’

“It comes with the territory, I guess. It’ll be good to finally get a chance to just ignore everything and block out all of the distractions and get ready for a football game, the Super Bowl, so it’ll be good.”

Super Bowl MVPs with ACC Connections

There are six former Super Bowl MVPs who played at a current ACC school:

Year MVP, Teams, Score (Super Bowl)

1974—Larry Csonka (Syracuse), Miami Dolphins over Minnesota Vikings, 24-7 (Super Bowl VIII)
1977—Fred Biletnikoff (Florida State), Oakland Raiders over Minnesota Vikings, 32-14 (Super Bowl XI)
1991—Ottis Anderson (Miami), New York Giants over Buffalo Bills, 20-19 (Super Bowl XXV)
2001—Ray Lewis (Miami), Baltimore Ravens over New York Giants, 34-7 (Super Bowl XXXV)
2003—Dexter Jackson (Florida State), Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Oakland Raiders. 48-21 (Super Bowl XXXVII)
2005—Deion Branch (Louisville), New England Patriots over Philadelphia Eagles, 24-21 (Super Bowl XXXIX)