Ten players from Alabama high schools and colleges are on the active roster of Super Bowl teams for this year’s NFL championship game.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles will go head-to-head on February 12 at 5:30 p.m. CST at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona to determine the champion of the 2022 NFL season.
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Players with Alabama soccer roots who are eligible to participate in Super Bowl LVII include:
· Eagles Safety Reed Blankenship (West Limestone) made the Philadelphia roster after the preseason as an undrafted rookie, has played in 12 games and started five contests, including last week’s playoff win over the New York Giants. In Sunday’s NFC Championship game, Blankenship ended the San Francisco 49ers’ last ball possession by forcing and recovering a fumble while making a tackle for a 7-yard loss.
· Eagles cornerback James Bradberry (Pleasant Grove, Samford) was released from the New York Giants on a salary cap in May and signed a one-year contract with Philadelphia. In his seventh NFL season, Bradberry started every game and earned second-team recognition on the AP All-Pro team for the 2022 season.
· Eagles guard Landon Dickerson (Alabama) has started every game of his sophomore season on the left side of Philadelphia’s offensive line. The Eagles’ trip to the Super Bowl means Dickerson will miss a trip to Las Vegas for the Pro Bowl games after earning All-Star selection for the 2022 season. Dickerson suffered an elbow injury on Sunday that caused him to leave the NFC Championship Game in the second half.
· Eagles offensive lineman Jack Driscoll (Auburn) is on standby to play tackle and guard. He played in every game in his third NFL season. Driscoll started and played every snap in three contests – one in left tackle replacing Jordan Mailata and two in right tackle replacing Lane Johnson.
· Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (Alabama) is a finalist for the AP’s NFL Most Valuable Player Award in his second season as Philadelphia’s starting QB. Hurts has returned after missing two games after spraining a throwing shoulder on December 18. With a 15-1 record as a starting quarterback this season following the Eagles’ victory in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, Hurts was selected for the Pro Bowl, was recognized as the second All-Pro team by The Associated Press, and by Pro Football Writers of America named All-NFC quarterback.
· Eagles cornerback Josh Jobe (Alabama) earned a spot in Philadelphia’s 53-man roster when he emerged from the preseason as an undrafted rookie. In his 11 regular-season appearances, Jobe had 12 defensive snaps and 220 special teams plays. He has continued his special team work in the postseason.
· Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith (Alabama) had 95 receptions for 1,196 yards and seven touchdowns during the regular season as he set Philadelphia records for receptions and yards for a player in his first two seasons with the franchise. In the Eagles’ two playoff wins, Smith had eight receptions for 97 yards and one touchdown.
· Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney (Blount) started his second NFL season with the New York Giants, who traded the former prep quarterback to Kansas City on Oct. 27 for third- and sixth-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. Toney’s NFL career has been plagued by injuries and he left Sunday’s AFC Championship Game with an ankle injury. In nine games with the Chiefs, Toney has 20 receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns, six rushing attempts for 78 yards and one touchdown, and 12 punt returns for 78 yards in nine games.
· The Chiefs offense tackles Prince Tega Wanogho (Edgewood Academy, Auburn) played in three regular season games in his first two NFL seasons. But in 2022, he has played in all 17 for Kansas City plus two playoff contests. Used in a reserve role, Wanogho was on the field for 58 offensive snaps and 90 special teams plays in those games.
· Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins (Athens) has 33 receptions for 354 yards and three touchdowns in his third NFL season.
Three other players with football roots from Alabama are on the Super Bowl team roster:
· Chiefs running back La’Mical Perine (Theodore) has been a member of the training team since Saturday. Perine had been on the Miami practice team when the Dolphins’ 2022 season ended in a postseason loss. He hasn’t played this season, but Perine has rushed for 263 yards and two touchdowns with 72 carries over the past two seasons with the New York Jets.
· Chiefs wide receiver Justyn Ross (Central-Phenix City) was on injured reserve all season. Kansas City placed the rookie free agent on IR when training camp opened after he underwent foot surgery.
· Eagles punter Arryn Siposs (Auburn) ended his season with an ankle injury sustained on December 11 when he was tackled after picking up a blocked punt and running with the football. In his second season as a Philadelphia punter in 2022, Siposs averaged 45.6 yards in 44 punts before injuring himself.
Connections to Alabama extend to the coaching staff of the Super Bowl teams:
· Chiefs Assistant Defensive Line Coach Terry Bradden is a graduate of Tuskegee.
· Joe Pannunzio, the Eagles’ assistant special-teams coordinator, has trained in Auburn and Alabama. He was the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator at Auburn in 1999 and Alabama in 2017. Pannunzio also served as the Crimson Tide’s director of football operations from 2010-2014 and was the running backs coach in 2018.
· Eagles Defense Coach Tracy Rocker is one of the most accomplished players in Auburn history. The two-time All-American won the 1988 Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award as Tigers’ defensive tackle and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Rocker was also an assistant coach at West Alabama, Troy and Auburn.
· Eagles offense coach Jeff Stoutland joined Philadelphia after serving in that capacity in 2011 and 2012 in Alabama.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.