Ben Roethisberger came from Miami (Ohio) to win two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It is called the Mid-American Conference (MAC), and it has supplied the NFL with its fair share of football players; there are currently 85 former MAC players on professional football teams.
Probably the most recognizable is Ben Roethlisberger, who played college football at Miami University. He has won two Super Bowls as the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting quarterback, and Chris G of Bleacher Report wrote in a recent article, "There is no question that Ben Roethlisberger is the Steelers' best offensive player."
Antonio Gates came from Kent State to play tight end for the San Diego Chargers. Wide receiver Domenick Hixson attended Akron before joining the New York Giants.Green Bay star wide receiver Greg Jennings went to Western Michigan University before becoming a member of the NFL champion Packers.
If you are into numbers, here are some worth noting:
- No MAC team has fewer than four players in the NFL.
- Three MAC schools (Kent State, Temple and Toledo) have 10 players in the NFL.
- Three NFL teams (Atlanta, Minnesota and Miami) do not have a player from a current MAC team.
- The Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers have the most MAC players with eight.
- The MAC's best position is wide receiver; they have 13 pass-catchers in the NFL.
- The least-favorite position (with one) is long snapper.
See if you recognize these former MAC players by their universities.
New York Giants wide receiver Domenik Hixson came from Akron and has become one of Eli Manning's favorite targets.
His first three years in the NFL, Hixson played in 46 games, catching 59 passes for 788 yards and a 13.4 yards-per-catch average. Last year he sat out the season with a knee injury, but he should be back in 2011.
Other former Akron players in the NFL include:
- Charlie Frye, QB (Oakland Raiders)
- Chase Blackburn, LB (New York Giants)
- Reggie Corner, CB (Buffalo Bills)
Punter Brad Maynard of the Chicago Bears has been a punter in the NFL for 15 years.
Reggie Hodges of the Cleveland Browns has five NFL seasons under his belt.
Both players came from Ball State University.
Punter isn't the only popular position filled by Ball State personnel. There are also two Cardinals offensive tackles in the NFL. Besides Maynard and Hodges, the Ball State players in the NFL include:
- Andre Ramsey, OT (Baltimore Ravens)
- Dan Gerberry, C (Detroit Lions)
- Nate Davis, QB (Seattle Seahawks)
- Robert Brewster, OT (Dallas Cowboys)
Bowling Green State's Kory Lichtensteiger spent 16 games last season protecting Washington quarterbacks and opening running lanes for the Redskins' running backs. He is being counted on to play another full season in the nation's capitol.
Other former Bowling Green State players in the NFL include:
- Diyral Briggs, LB (Green Bay Packers)
- Scott Mruczkowski, C (San Diego Chargers)
- Shaun Suisham, PK (Pittsburgh Steelers)
When the Green Bay Packers needed a late-season and playoff running back, they turned to James Starks.
Starks represented Buffalo well, running for one touchdown, 315 yards and averaging 3.9 yards per carry in the playoffs.
Other former Buffalo players in the NFL include:
- Derek Willy, QB (New York Jets)
- Jamey Richard, G (Indianapolis Colts)
- Josh Thomas, CB (Dallas Cowboys)
- Mike Newton, S (Indianapolis Colts)
- Naaman Roosevelt, WR (Buffalo Bills)
- Trevor Scott, DE (Oakland Raiders)
Green Bay linebacker Frank Zombo not only harassed Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but he also made five solo tackles in the Packers' 31-25 Super Bowl win. Zombo was a solid Central Michigan representative, as he played in 13 of 16 regular season games and the playoffs for Green Bay.
Other former Chippewas players in the NFL include:
- Antonio Brown, WR (Pittsburgh Steelers)
- Cullen Jenkins, DE (Green Bay Packers)
- Dan LeFevour, QB (Cincinnati Bengals)
- Joe Staley, OT (San Francisco 49ers)
- Josh Gordy, CB (Green Bay Packers)
- Tory Humphrey, TE (New Orleans Saints)
Every football fan knows Houston quarterback Matt Schaub loves to pass the ball to Andre Johnson, but his other reliable wide receiver is Eastern Michigan's Kevin Walter.
In his last four years with the Texans, Walter has caught 219 passes for 2,921 yards and 19 touchdowns. Those aren't bad numbers for Houston's No. 2 wide receiver.
Other former Eastern Michigan players in the NFL include:
- Charlie Batch, QB (Pittsburgh Steelers)
- Jason Jones, DT (Tennessee Titans)
- T.J. Lang, G (Green Bay Packers)
Prior to the 2010 season, tight end Antonio Gates played in 109 out of 112 games as a San Diego Charger. He missed six games last year, but the Kent State product still managed to catch 50 passes for 782 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Other players from Kent State in the NFL include:
- Abram Elam, S (Cleveland Browns)
- Daniel Muir, DT (Indianapolis Colts)
- Jack Williams, CB (Detroit Lions)
- James Harrison, LB (Pittsburgh Steelers)
- Jameson Konz, TE (Seattle Seahawks)
- Josh Cribbs, WR (Cleveland Browns)
- Julian Edelman, WR (New England Patriots)
- Rico Murray, CB (Cincinnati Bengals)
- Usama Young, S (New Orleans Saints)
One of the shrewdest moves Atlanta made in 2008 was acquiring running back Michael Turner.
Turner came from Northern Illinois to limited action with the San Diego Chargers before joining the Falcons. After three years in Atlanta, Turner has scored 39 touchdowns and rushed for 3,941 yards.
Other former Northern Illinois players in the NFL include:
- Britt Davis, WR (Denver Broncos)
- Ryan Diem, OT (Indianapolis Colts)
- Larry English, LB (San Diego Chargers)
- Doug Free, OT (Dallas Cowboys)
- Sam Hurd, WR (Dallas Cowboys)
- Jake Nordin, FB (Detroit Lions)
- Garrett Wolfe, RB (Chicago Bears)
Ohio University product Mike Mitchell was stuffing running plays from his cornerback position with the Oakland Raiders in 2010. He finished with 51 tackles (41 solos, 10 assists), intercepted one pass and forced one fumble.
Other former Ohio University players in the NFL include:
- Landon Cohen, DT (New England Patriots)
- Mark Parson, CB (New Orleans Saints)
- Taylor Price, WR (New England Patriots)
- Thad Turner, DB (New England Patriots)
Defensive end Raheem Brock brought plenty of playoff experience to Seattle in 2010.
The former Temple Owl spent eight years on the Indianapolis Colts' defensive line and brought the same consistency to the Seahawks. Brock finished the season with 32 tackles (26 solo, six assists), one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Other Temple players in the NFL include:
- Alex Joseph, LB (San Francisco 49ers)
- Andre Neblett, DT (Carolina Panthers)
- Brian Sanford, DE (Cleveland Browns)
- Dominique Harris, S (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
- Jaiquawn Jarrett, S (Philadelphia Eagles)
- Jason McVie, FB (Baltimore Ravens)
- Muhammad Wilkerson, DT (New York Jets)
- Steve Maneri, OT (New England Patriots)
- Terrance Knighton, DT (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Before the 2010 season, Chicago went shopping for a running back to provide more firepower in the Bears' backfield.
They acquired veteran Chester Taylor, who attended the University of Toledo, and he became a reliable alternative to starter Matt Forte. Taylor had five touchdowns, 313 yards rushing and 151 yards receiving in regular season and playoff games.
Other Toledo players in the NFL include:
- Andrew Hawkins, WR (St. Louis Rams)
- Barry Church, S (Dallas Cowboys)
- Brett Kern, P (Tennessee Titans)
- Bruce Gradkowski, QB (Oakland Raiders)
- Jalen Parmele, RB (Baltimore Ravens)
- John Greco, G (St. Louis Rams)
- Lance Moore, WR (New Orleans Saints)
- Nick Kaczur, OT (New England Patriots)
- Stephen Williams, WR (Arizona Cardinals)
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers completing a pass to wide receiver Greg Jennings is a familiar sight to Packer fans and a major point of frustration for Green Bay's opponents. In his five-year career, the Western Michigan product has caught 322 passes for 5,222 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Other former Western Michigan players in the NFL include:
- E.J.. Biggers, CB (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
- Jason Rabin, DE (Tennessee Titans)
- Joe Reitz, OT (Indianapolis Colts)
- Louis Delmas, S (Detroit Lions)
- Tony Scheffler, TE (Detroit Lions)