Written By: Mike Finn, Atlantic Coast Conference
Greensboro, NC - The Atlantic Coast Conference doesn't have the most former players in the Super Bowl this year, but several of its former players and a couple more from its current schools were instrumental in the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens reaching Super Bowl XLVII.
In all, a total of 19 players from current ACC schools dot the rosters-including active, injured reserve and practice squad-of the Super Bowl-bound 49ers and Ravens. The ACC is tied for second with the Big Ten behind the SEC (23). Conference affiliation for the 2012 football season was used to compile the list.
But in terms of quality, the league ranks second to none.
Frank Gore (Miami) was the game' s leading rusher for the San Francisco 49ers in their win over Atlanta in the NFC Championship, rushing for 90 yards on 21 carries and 2 touchdowns. Tight end Vernon Davis (Maryland) led all 49ers receivers with 5 catches for 106 yards and a TD.
For the Baltimore Ravens, former ACC wide receivers Anquan Boldin (Florida State) and Torrey Smith (Maryland) combined for 9 catches for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns. Boldin had 5 grabs for 60 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Smith had 4 receptions for 69 yards.
Also for the Ravens, a pair of former Miami Hurricanes who did not play in the ACC, linebacker Ray Lewis' inspirational play (14 tackles) and safety Ed Reed (2 tackles) keyed Baltimore's defense in the Ravens' 28-13 win. Lewis, by the way, has 44 post-season tackles, the most of any player since Dan Morgan had 45 in 2003.
Miami lead all schools with seven players headed to the Super Bowl. Oregon is next with five.
Coaching connections with ACC teams abound as Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell served as head coach at Wake Forest for eight seasons (1993-2000); Ravens assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg coached the secondary at Boston College (1997-98); Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin served as defensive backs coach at Wake Forest from 1993 through 1995 and Baltimore assistant offensive line coach Todd Washington lettered as an offensive linemen with Virginia Tech from 1995-97.
On the 49ers side defensive coordinator Vic Fangio began his career as a graduate assistant at North Carolina (1983). San Francisco assistant strength and conditioning Coach Kevin Tolbert spent three years in strength and conditioning at Miami (1998-2000), while director of football operations and sports medicine Jeff Ferguson is a native and graduate of Clemson, where he was a student athletic trainer from 1989 through 1993.
Finally, there is at least one more ACC connection with the Super Bowl participants. NC State's head basketball coach, Mark Gottfried, is a second cousin of both Super Bowl head coaches, John Harbaugh of the Ravens and Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers.
Players from ACC Schools In the Super Bowl:
Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech
Anquan Boldin, WR, Florida State
Ray Lewis, LB, Miami
Bryant McKinnie, T, Miami
Ed Reed, S, Miami
Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech
Damien Berry, RB, Miami (injured reserve)
Ricky Brown, LB, Boston College (injured reserve)
Michael McAdoo, OLB, North Carolina (injured reserve)
Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami (injured reserve)
LaQuan Williams, WR, Maryland (injured reserve)
Antoine McClain, G, Clemson (practice squad)
San Francisco 49ers
Ahmad Brooks, LB, Virginia
Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland
Tavares Gooden, LB, Miami
Frank Gore, RB, Miami
Cam Johnson, LB, Virginia
Joe Looney, G, Wake Forest
Source: Atlantic Coast Conference