Texas Football: Power Ranking the Longhorns Playing in Super Bowl XLVIII
The Texas Longhorns have a six-year streak of sending at least one player to the Super Bowl. For Super Bowl XLVIII, the 'Horns have three representatives total on the two rosters for this year's big game.
Earl Thomas, Quentin Jammer and Michael Huff are the trio of players that are DBU alumni. Thomas, the star Seattle Seahawks safety, leads the group and is one of the best in the NFL at his craft. The Broncos' Jammer on the other hand is a 12-year veteran looking to put the finishing touches on his career. As for Huff, who has gone within the same season from trying to help defend a Super Bowl title to trying to win one, he will largely be along for the ride, as he tries to add another championship to his football resume.
All three defensive backs had great careers as Longhorns. But what kind of impact will they have on Sunday's game? We've ranked them accordingly.
No. 3: FS Michael Huff, Denver Broncos
After a stellar career at Texas, Broncos backup safety Michael Huff has fallen short of his first-round NFL talent. Unlike the last championship he played in, he is expected to play a cursory role at best.
Huff wasn't just good at Texas, he was the best in the country. As a senior, he became the first Longhorn to win the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back and was a consensus first-team All-American. To cap it off, his 12 tackles and fumble recovery in the Longhorns' national championship victory earned him honors as the defensive MVP.
The following spring, the Oakland Raiders took Huff at No. 7 overall. He was considered to be the total package at the safety position, however, since its beginning, Huff's NFL career has been marked by solid play but offset by maddening inconsistency. After promising rookie and sophomore seasons, Huff was benched in 2008 before becoming a second-team All-Pro in 2010. Since 2011, he has recorded four interceptions and 76 tackles.
In five games for the AFC champion Broncos, Huff has notched just five tackles, including two in the postseason. He is buried on the Broncos' depth chart and will only see extended action if starter Mike Adams succumbs to injury.
At least the former 'Horn has a shot to add a Super Bowl to go with his 2005 BCS title.
No. 2: CB Quentin Jammer, Denver Broncos
Like his fellow Longhorn and first-team All-American teammate, Quentin Jammer was a standout in his time at Texas. Though he has never been considered a great corner, the 34-year-old is looking to put the finishing touches on a fine NFL career.
Jammer was taken as the fifth pick of the 2002 draft by the San Diego Chargers. He struggled to win over the Chargers fanbase but became a regular starter for the Bolts from 2003 to 2012. Jammer has recorded just 21 picks over his 13-year career, but averaged over a dozen passes defensed during his tenure in San Diego.
Now that age has robbed him of his old explosiveness, Jammer has been a backup to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Chris Harris. The latter's injury has opened up more playing time for the veteran Jammer, but Champ Bailey projects to see more work on Super Sunday.
No. 1: FS Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks
Richard Sherman may hog most of the Legion of Boom's headlines, but former Longhorn standout Earl Thomas is every bit as good. He will have to prove that against Peyton Manning and the Broncos' record-breaking passing attack.
A consensus first-team All-American in 2009, Thomas actually went later in the draft at No. 14 overall than the previously mentioned ex-Longhorns. That has done nothing to stop ET from becoming one of the best safeties in the league, a three-time All-Pro and a key cog in everything that the Seahawks do on defense. That's what Pete Caroll, who has coached the likes of Troy Polamalu, means when he says Thomas is "as good as any" safety he has ever coached.
On Sunday, the 24-year-old Thomas will get the supreme challenge of his career. Manning is a wizard at the line of scrimmage, figuring out what the defense is bringing and dissecting it with scary precision. Thomas plays centerfield for the Seahawks and will have to digest every fake and audible Manning throws at him. Additionally, he will be counted on to help cover receiving threats like Wes Welker and Julius Thomas, as well as coming down to provide support against the Broncos' quietly effective run game.
If the Seahawks are going to come away with the victory in the Meadowlands, it will take one of the best efforts of Thomas' career.