State outshined by Florida for Super alums

The San Francisco 49ers are slight favorites to beat the Baltimore Ravens in next Sunday's Super Bowl.

The San Francisco 49ers are slight favorites to beat the Baltimore Ravens in next Sunday’s Super Bowl.

While there are 11 former California prep players who will be in this year’s Super Bowl, the state’s total does not come close to Florida (with 16) and also trails Texas (with 13). Go inside for comments about each Californian and for more proof why it’s not essential for a player to be recruited by colleges to make it big in the NFL.

By Mark Tennis
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By our count of the 11 players from California high schools who are on the rosters of this year’s Super Bowl teams, it looks like two were walk-ons at the college level (including outstanding Baltimore Ravens’ tight end Dennis Pitta) while four more could be classified as players that colleges weren’t that interested in (including San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick).

Every year, it’s hyped beyond belief about this recruit and that recruit going to USC, UCLA, Oregon, etc. In reality, though, for every kid who signs a letter of intent, there’s another one out there who has yet to grow into the man and player he will become.

California’s total of 11 players who are either Ravens or 49ers is a little below average compared to other Super Bowls. Last year, the state had 13, which was more than any other state. This year, California ranks behind Florida, which has possibly its highest total ever with 16, and Texas, which has 13. California’s all-time record is 25 set in the 2008 Super Bowl between the New York Giants and New England Patriots. In the 1985 Super Bowl, a total of 18 players from the champion 49ers were from California.

Here is a look at all 11 players on this year’s California Super Bowl Alumni list:

LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (Santa Cruz) Ravens
The special teams’ standout has played in the Super Bowl before when he was a member of the New England Patriots.

TE Ed Dickson (Bellflower) Ravens
As a high school athlete, Dickson was one of the state’s top grid-hoopers and received all-state grid-hoop honors.

FS Dashon Goldson (Narbonne, Harbor City) 49ers
He’s not the only standout defensive back in the NFL from Narbonne. Nnamdi Asomugha of the Philadelphia Eagles also is a former Gaucho.

LB Clark Haggans (Peninsula, Palos Verdes Estates) 49ers
A walk-on when he went to Colorado State, Haggans already has one Super Bowl ring and was the second-leading tackler in the game when the Pittsburgh Steelers topped the Seattle Seahawks.

OL Mike Iupati (Western, Anaheim) 49ers
A first-round pick by the Niners two years ago, Iupati is from the same high school as Tiger Woods and at Western played on the same team at Fili Moala, who also is in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts.

CB Asa Jackson (Christian Brothers, Sacramento) Ravens
He also has returned kicks for the Ravens and is in his rookie season. At CBS, Jackson was an all-league level player who was not highly recruited. He did sign with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and it was there that his career took off.

QB Colin Kaepernick (Pitman, Turlock) 49ers
We already have posted a separate item about Colin and his high school accomplishments at Pitman. Comparing him to other NFL Super Bowl QBs from Northern California, he wasn’t as highly recruited as when Tom Brady was at San Mateo Serra but did have more interest as when Aaron Rodgers was at Pleasant Valley of Chico. There seemed to be more interest in him as a baseball pitcher but he wanted to be a quarterback and stuck to his commitment to the University of Nevada.

TE Dennis Pitta (Moorpark) Ravens
Despite catching 62 passes for more than 1,100 yards for the Musketeers in 2002, Pitta lacked the size to be a tight end and the speed to be a receiver that colleges covet. He ended up walking on at BYU where he eventually blossomed into a tight end and is now one of the best in the NFL.

QB Alex Smith (Helix, La Mesa) 49ers
Smith’s fabled prep teammate at Helix, Reggie Bush, played in the Super Bowl recently for the New Orleans Saints. He, of course, nearly led the 49ers to the Super Bowl last year, but the team was beaten in overtime by the New York Giants in the NFC championship.

CB Jimmy Smith (Colton) Ravens
At Colton as a senior, Smith didn’t have huge numbers on defense, but on offense he caught 53 passes for 1,123 yards and 14 TDs. He became a full-time corner at Colorado and was first-round draft pick in 2011.

TE Delanie Walker (Pomona) 49ers
Here’s yet another player in the Super Bowl who did not sign a letter of intent as a high school recruit. In Walker’s case, he went to Mt. San Antonio College, then to Central Missouri. He was an All-San Gabriel Valley Tribune choice for the Red Devils.

Note about head coaches
Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers was a quarterback at Palo Alto when his father, Jack, was an assistant coach at Stanford. His older brother, John, is not from a California high school since Jack was coaching at Michigan before going to Stanford.

Corrections or comments? Email markjtennis@gmail.com.


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