Wilson to go where few ACC QBs have gone before
Posted January 20
The ACC has had such a limited impact on the Super Bowl that Russell Wilson will become only the third ACC quarterback alum to start one of the games when Seattle faces Denver on Feb. 2 in New Jersey.
Wilson played three seasons for N.C. State and one for Wisconsin, so hopefully he’ll be introduced as a Wolfpack product during the pre-game ceremonies.
Either way – State or Wisconsin – Wilson will join former Maryland players Boomer Esiason (Cincinnati starter in a 20-16 loss to San Francisco in 23th Super Bowl) and Neil O’Donnell (Pittsburgh starter in a 27-17 loss Dallas in 30th game) as the only former ACC quarterbacks to start.
Keep in mind that former Black Mountain (N.C.) Owen High star Brad Johnson played at Florida State before the school began ACC competition in 1992.
Johnson quarterbacked Tampa Bay to a 48-21 win over Oakland in the 37th game.
Unless my research is wrong (I rechecked everything), the first former ACC player to score a Super Bowl touchdown wasn’t even a quarterback, running back, pass receiver or return specialist my design. Instead, it was defensive lineman William Perry (Clemson) who scored on a 1-yard run as a fullback for Chicago in the Bears’ 46-10 win over New England in the 20th game (Jan. 26, 1986 in New Orleans).
Other interesting ACC Super Bowl items:
• Green Bay defenders Henry Jordan (Virginia, DL) and Tom Brown (Maryland, DB) were the only ACC alums in Super Bowl I (Packers 35, Kansas City 10, Jan. 15, 1967, Los Angeles)
• A star for the Packers in that game was tight end Carroll Dale, who played for Virginia Tech in college. The Hokies would begin ACC play in 2004.
• All three – Jordan, Brown and Dale – also played in the 2nd Super Bowl (Packers 33, Oakland 14, Jan. 14, 1968, Miami).
• In that second Super Bowl, two of the Raiders’ top defensive players were end Ike Lassiter (St. Augustine’s) and tackle Richard Sligh (N.C. Central).
• In the 3rd Super Bowl, the ACC roster influence increased slightly. Ex-Clemson running back Bill Mathis played a relatively important role for the New York Jets in a 16-7 upset over the Baltimore Colts on Jan. 12, 1969 in Miami.
The heavily favored Colts were led on defense by linebackers Mike Curtis (Duke) and Bob Grant (Wake Forest) and used former South Carolina star halfback Alex Hawkins as an all-purpose player.
One of the top defensive players for the Jets was safety Cornell Gordon, who was a college standout at N.C. A&T.
• The first ACC quarterback in a Super Bowl was Gary Cuozzo of Virginia for the Minnesota Vikings in their 23-7 loss to Kansas City in the 4th title game (Jan. 11, 1970, New Orleans).
Cuozzo backed up starter Joe Kapp all season and only played in nine of the team’s 14 games. In the Super Bowl, he got in on the Vikings’ final possession and threw an interception.
• The only ACC product to win a Super Bowl MVP award was former Maryland defensive star Randy White, who shared the MVP trophy with Dallas Cowboys teammate Harvey Martin in a 27-10 win over Denver in the 7th game (Jan. 15, 1978, New Orleans).
• Jim Ritcher (NCSU center) played in four Super Bowls – all losses – for the Buffalo Bills in the 1990s. Ritcher was drafted as an Outland Trophy-winning center but went on to become one the best guards in NFL history.
Memorable ACC performances:
• Willie Parker (UNC RB): The former Clinton High star scored on a 75-yard run for Pittsburgh in its 21-10 win over Seattle in the 40th game (Feb. 6, 2005, Detroit).
• Torry Holt (NCSU WR): A high school standout at Eastern Guilford, Holt caught seven passes for 109 yards, including one for a 9-yard touchdown from Kurt Warner, to key St. Louis’ 23-16 win over Tennessee in the 34th game (Jan. 30, 2000, Atlanta).
Later, he caught five passes for 48 yards in St. Louis’ 20-17 loss to New England in the 36th game (Feb. 4, 2002, New Orleans).
• Hakeem Nicks (UNC WR): The ex-Charlotte Independence High player came up with 10 receptions for 109 yards in the New York Giants’ 21-17 win over New England in the 2011 season championship game (Feb. 5, 2012).
• Ricky Proehl (Wake Forest WR): Now a coach for the Carolina Panthers, the former Deacon played in four Super Bowls and was a winner twice – one with Holt and the Rams and another with Indianapolis Colts.