California Super Bowl Alums

The Golden State once again has more than any other in this year’s Super Bowl, but it’s close this time with just one more player than Texas. It would have been by more but the Seahawks lost four from California to injuries late in the season.

RELATED: State’s All-Time List of Super Bowl Players

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Even though the Seattle Seahawks are back to defend their Super Bowl title on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz., there are plenty of changes to their roster from just one year ago.

As far as the annual Cal-Hi Sports survey of Super Bowl players and where they went to high school, one significant change is that last year defensive back Jeron Johnson was not on the Seahawks’ active roster. This year, he is and that means that Dominguez High of Compton can claim itself as the only school in the nation with two players on either the rosters of Seahawks or New England Patriots.

That other player from Dominguez in the Super Bowl, of course, is the out-spoken Richard Sherman. He was our 2005-06 Division II State Athlete of the Year. With himself and Jeron Johnson and others, Dominguez won a CIF Southern Section title, finished 13-1 and was No. 2 in the final overall state rankings behind 14-0 St. Bonaventure of Ventura.
In last year’s survey, California’s total of 22 former high school players in the Super Bowl dwarfed the second-highest total of 12 from Texas. This year, California again leads, but Texas is practically tied. The margin instead is 15-14.

California probably would have been more comfortably in front but four players off the Seahawks’ roster toward the end of the season suffered injuries and were placed on injured reserve: FB Derrick Coleman (Fullerton Troy), LB Heath Farwell (Corona), WR Paul Richardson (Gardena Serra) and DL Brandon Mebane (L.A. Crenshaw).

It should be a great game on Sunday. The Latest Betting Picks from a sports betting site rate it as a tossup.


Note: Totals don’t include head coaches but we like to list them as well.

(All players listed in alphabetical order)

LB Akeem Ayers (Verbum Dei, Los Angeles)
Traded to the Patriots back in October, he now has a chance to add to his championship collection with a Super Bowl ring to go with a CIF Southern Section title that the Eagles won while he was there.

QB Tom Brady (Serra, San Mateo)
Future Hall of Fame lock is making his sixth start in the Super Bowl for the Patriots to set a record for QBs and tie the record for all players. If he gets a fourth ring, much to the chagrine of San Francisco 49er fans, he’ll at least have to be in the discussion with Joe Montana as the best Super Bowl QB of all.

Patriots DB Brandon Browner (Sylmar)
He’s going to be in high demand by the media this week since Browner was a member of the Seahawks last season and now he’s playing for the Pats. Browner wasn’t on the Seahawks’ Super Bowl roster last year, however, due to a suspension.

WR/RB Julian Edelman (Woodside)
That TD pass that Edelman threw to Danny Amendola in New England’s first playoff game this year was no surprise to anyone from Woodside. Edelman played QB for the Wildcats and led them to a 13-0 record as a senior. He accounted for more than 3,200 yards and 42 TDs. He continued to play QB at College of San Mateo and at Kent State and developed into the jack-of-all-trades player he’s become after joining the Patriots.

Lynch was MVP among running backs when he went to the NFTC at Stanford in the spring of his junior year. Photo: Student Sports.

Marshawn Lynch was the MVP among running backs when he went to the NFTC at Stanford in the spring of his junior year. Photo: Student Sports.

TE Cooper Helfet (Redwood, Larkspur)
A good example of not needing to be a big time recruit to wind up on a Super Bowl roster, Helfet ended up going to John Hopkins University on a lacrosse scholarship before eventually playing football at Santa Rosa J.C. and Duke. He then went undrafted and signed with the Seahawks and has twice been released and resigned. Heflet is from the same high school as Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll.

DB Jeron Johnson (Dominguez, Compton)
Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011 after playing at Boise State, Johnson was the San Gabriel Valley League Defensive MVP his final two seasons with the Dons. Johnson was a linebacker in those days and became a secondary player later on.

RB Marshawn Lynch (Oakland Tech, Oakland)
In his final high school game, Lynch scored six touchdowns at the Oakland Coliseum to lead Tech past Skyline 55-47 in the Oakland Section championship. He also went over 2,000 yards rushing for the season. According to Mitch Stephens of the S.F. Chronicle, Lynch had a much different reaction when talking to the media in those days. He told Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area host Robert Braunstein after that game: “If my linemen weren’t so good — Oh my God, I don’t know what I would do. And me, being as broke as I am, I’m about to find a way to treat my linemen to Sizzler.”

WR Chris Matthews (Dorsey, Los Angeles)
There are a number of Dorsey players who’ve gone on to the NFL, but not all have played in the Super Bowl. The last Don to be in the game was Keyshawn Johnson of the Tampa Bay Bucs in 2003. Matthews went to the Univ. of Kentucky, was not drafted, then played in the CFL before signing with the Seahawks before this season. He finally made the 53-man roster in December and he was the one who recovered that onside kick in the NFC Championship Game.

DB DeShawn Shead (Highland, Palmdale)
Another player who went undrafted and has signed and been released before resigning with the Seahawks, Shead was a two-time All-Conference DB in high school while he also ran track and set the Bulldogs’ school pole vault record.

DB Richard Sherman (Dominguez, Compton)
In his senior season at Dominguez, Sherman caught 28 passes for 859 yards for 30.7 yards per catch, an average that is one of the highest in state history and is listed in the state record book. Sherman later won the CIF state track title in the triple jump.
Seahawks logo
LB Malcolm Smith (Taft, Woodland Hills)
A standout on the football field and running track for the Toreadors, he was named last year’s Super Bowl MVP after recovering a fumble and also intercepting a pass and returning it 69 yards for a touchdown. Smith’s older brother, Steve, has a Super Bowl ring as well when he played for the New York Giants. Steve Smith also just had his state receiving records broken in the last three years, first by Canyon’s Drew Wolitarsky and then by Newhall Hart’s Trent Irwin.

RB Robert Turbin (Irvington, Fremont)
In his junior year at Irvington, Turbin was a force on both sides of the ball for a team that went 9-4 and reached the CIF North Coast Section Division II final. He would eventually sign with Utah State.

RB Shane Vereen (Valencia)
We easily recall how good Vereen was as a sophomore when we saw him in person for the Vikings in a game in 2004. That was the year Valencia also had former state career passing record holder Michael Herrick and eventually would finish 12-2. Vereen later became an all-state player for the Vikings as a senior and was just as good on defense as he was on offense.

LB Bobby Wagner (Colony, Ontario)
A second-round draft pick by the Seahawks in 2012, he was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month in December and was named a first-team All-Pro this season for the first time in his career. While with the Titans, he also played tight end and helped the Titans capture a CIF Southern Section divisional championship.

OL Ryan Wendell (Diamond Bar)
In the Pats’ last recent Super Bowl appearances, we loved to reminisce about offensive lineman Logan Mankins of Mariposa being one of the team’s anchors. Mankins is now at Tampa Bay, but Wendell is still around to provide a Golden State flavor in front of Brady.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll (Redwood, Larkspur)
After high school, Carroll played in college and began his coaching career at the University of Pacific in Stockton, just down the street from our Stockton office. The only time we met him, at a Nike camp, it was still a sore spot for him that UOP dropped its football program.

Paul Muyskens contributed to this post.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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