5 SEC Players Who Will Make the Biggest Impact in the Super Bowl
The SEC's power will be on display on Feb. 3, when 20 players who played for SEC schools will be vying to be Super Bowl champions according to the SEC. We won't include players from Texas A&M and Missouri in the count, considering those players didn't play at their respective institutions when they were members of the SEC.
Among the former SEC players who will take the field for Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans will be former Ole Miss LB Patrick Willis, former Auburn cornerback Carlos Rogers and former Georgia linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.
Which former SEC stars will make the biggest impact in the Super Bowl? Our top five are in this slideshow.
5. Baltimore Ravens LB Courtney Upshaw (Alabama)
Former Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw was drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft, and has paid immediate dividends for the Baltimore Ravens.
The rookie finished eighth on the team in tackles in 2012, tallying 60 stops playing primarily out of the "Sam" spot alongside future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis in the ultra-talented Ravens linebacking corps.
He got nine starts in 2012, and may become more of a factor in the Super Bowl against the dynamic 49er offense. His single-game high for tackles this season was six, which he accomplished three times—two of which were against teams with mobile quarterbacks (Philadelphia and Washington).
He may not get a ton of publicity, but watch out for Upshaw in the Super Bowl.
4. San Francisco 49ers CB Carlos Rogers (Auburn)
Former Auburn Tiger Carlos Rogers only had one interception in 2012, but the starting left cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers will have his work cut out for him in the Super Bowl.
The Ravens feature two dangerous wide receivers in Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, both of whom have talent to be weapons as either possession receivers or deep threats.
Ever since Jim Caldwell took over as offensive coordinator for the Ravens, they've made a concerted effort to focus on the running game and take stretch the field deep. That puts pressure on Rogers, who will have to get off blocks and prevent Boldin and Smith from burning his defense deep.
The 6'1", 192-pounder has proven that he has the ability to be a shutdown corner, and if he shuts down his side of the field in the Super Bowl, it will go a long way towards the Niners winning the title.
3. Baltimore Ravens LB Dannell Ellerbe (Georgia)
While Ray Lewis may steal most of the headlines from the rest of the Baltimore Ravens defense, former Georgia linebacker Dannell Ellerbe has been an absolute stud for the AFC Champions in 2012.
Ellerbe, who starred at Georgia through the 2008 season, finished second on the Ravens in tackles in 2012 with 92 tackles and tied for third with 4.5 sacks.
Not bad for a player who signed as an undrafted free agent in 2009.
He'll be starting at "Will" linebacker against a potent offense led by dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick, which means he will have to stay disciplined and not let the excitement of the moment get too big for him.
2. Baltimore Ravens RT Michael Oher (Ole Miss)
Despite being a starter in the National Football League, former Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher is probably best known as the inspiration for the movie The Blind Side.
That may change in a couple of weeks, because the 6'4", 315-pound right tackle for the Baltimore Ravens is an integral piece to the offense for the AFC champs.
Running back Ray Rice rushed for 1,143 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012, and was able to do so thanks to a strong offensive line—which Oher has been a primary piece of ever since he was drafted prior to the 2009 season.
He's solid in running and passing situations, and will be tested against San Francisco. The 49ers get creative with their front seven, which means Oher and his teammates along the offensive line will have to be smart and remain calm on football's biggest stage.
1. San Francisco 49ers LB Patrick Willis (Ole Miss)
Former Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Willis has been a stud for the San Francisco 49ers ever since he was drafted prior to the 2007 season.
Willis finished second on the team in 2012 with 120 tackles, and added two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Starting alongside NaVorro Bowman at inside linebacker in the 49ers' 3-4 defense, Willis has proven to be a force for the 49ers and will have to play disciplined against the smashmouth style of the Baltimore Ravens.
The six-time Pro Bowler has proven to be one of the best linebackers in the league, and will have to play like it on Super Bowl Sunday.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!