It’s another close battle between California, Texas and Florida for the state having the most Super Bowl players but for this year’s game between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles it’s a win for Texas. California and Florida are right behind tied for second. Neither of those two states, of course, can claim the greatest Super Bowl player of all-time, Tom Brady, who is from a Bay Area school that had a Super MVP alum even before him.
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RELATED: A fun look at California’s all-time top 30 Super Bowl alums
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CALIFORNIA SUPER BOWL ALUMNI 2018
(All players listed in alphabetical order)
RB Kenjon Barner (Notre Dame, Riverside)
Here’s a player with 8-man football experience who’s now in the Super Bowl. Barner played his first two seasons for 8-man Calvary Chapel of Moreno Valley before playing his junior and senior seasons at Notre Dame. He finished with 118 career TDs and 8,178 yards from 2004 to 2007, which we have to list under the 8-man category in the state record book. Barner earned a scholarship to Oregon and is now a back-up running back and special teams player for the Eagles.
This is Brady’s all-time best eighth Super Bowl appearance (regardless of position) and is looking for a repeat. After last year’s unforgettable 34-28 overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons in which Brady rallied the Patriots from a 28-3 deficit, he passed Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw to become the first QB to lead a team to five Super Bowl wins. Serra also is one of only three schools in the nation to have had more than one grad earn MVP honors in the game. Serra’s other MVP was Lynn Swann of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The other two schools are the one in Louisiana where both Eli and Peyton Manning are from and San Diego’s Lincoln High for Marcus Allen and Terrance Davis.
LS Joe Cardona (Granite Hills, El Cajon)
The long-snapper for Patriots is probably a favorite of head coach Bill Belichick because he went to the Naval Academy and is a Naval officer in addition to long-snapping. Belichick’s father, Steve, was a longtime head coach of Navy and Belichick’s high school is Annapolis, Md.
DB Patrick Chung (Rancho Cucamonga)
The former two-time all-leaguer for the Cougars, who went to college at Oregon, actually played one season for the Eagles in between two different stints with the Patriots. Chung had five tackles in last year’s Super Bowl and was a starter for the New England defense when it won the Super Bowl in 2015 over the Seattle Seahawks.
WR Brandin Cooks (Lincoln, Stockton)
After joining the Patriots this season from the New Orleans Saints, Cooks was expected to become a deep threat for Tom Brady and he’s done just that. The former Oregon State All-American, who was launched at a Stanford Nike camp coming into his senior season at Lincoln, also was a sprinter in high school. He was a senior at Lincoln when Sean Tennis, the son of Cal-Hi Sports editor Mark Tennis, was a freshman. A sophomore at Lincoln at the time was running back Justin Davis, who played this season for the Los Angeles Rams.
TE Zach Ertz (Monte Vista, Danville)
It’s amazing how often we have a Super Bowl alum who was once on our Grid-Hoop All-State Team. Ertz did that for the 2008-09 school year. He played football for a Mustangs’ team that threw the ball to the tight end frequently and had 14 TD catches as a senior. Ertz then went to Stanford and has been one of the top tight ends in the NFL for the Eagles. He is married to USA women’s soccer star Julie Ertz, who also is from Stanford but is from an Arizona high school.
DB Sidney Jones (West Covina)
He’s a rookie DB for the Eagles and is in his first Super Bowl, but his story is more complicated than that. After he decided to enter the NFL Draft following his junior season at Washington, Jones tore his Achilles tendon during the Huskies’ pro day. He still went late in the second round of last year’s draft by Philadelphia even though his rehab would extend well into the 2017 season. Sidney didn’t play in his first NFL game until the last regular season game against Dallas. His fourth game ever will be in the Super Bowl.
LB Mychal Kendricks (Hoover, Fresno)
One of the Kendricks brothers was going to be in the Super Bowl this year and it turned out to be older brother Mychal, who plays for the Eagles, instead of Erick, who plays for the Minnesota Vikings. Mychal is two years older and both players were among the top linebackers in the state as seniors in 2007 and 2009. Mychal then played at Cal while Erick went to UCLA.
DT Elijah Qualls (Casa Grande, Petaluma)
Another rookie for the Eagles enjoying a trip to play in the Super Bowl, Elijah is someone very familiar to Cal-Hi Sports associate editor Harold Abend, who saw him play many times near where he lives. Qualls was a fullback in addition to playing defensive line at Casa Grande and rushed for more than 1,800 yards. He went to college at Washington.
DB Jordan Richards (Folsom)
Richards was the first Bulldog to make it into the Super Bowl last year (at least from among the players from Folsom of the last 15 to 20 years) and continues to be a top special teams player for the Patriots. He was one of the leading players for the Bulldogs when they won their first CIF state title in 2010. They’ve now won three, including the 2017 squad that won in D1-AA and ended 16-0.
WR Matthew Slater (Servite, Anaheim)
Make it seven Pro Bowl selections for the career of Slater, who got another one this season for special teams. He’s been one of the Patriots’ mainstays in recent seasons. The son of NFL Hall of Famer Jackie Slater also still holds Servite sprinting records in track, including a 10.62 in the 100 meters at the CIF state finals.
QB Nate Sudfeld (Modesto Christian)
We don’t see very many small school QBs going to Indiana for a scholarship but Sudfeld did just that after his career playing for the Crusaders. He ended up having a strong career there and is now a back-up QB for the Eagles. Sudfeld moved up to No. 2 on the depth chart behind Nick Foles after No. 1 Carson Wentz suffered a knee injury. Sudfeld was even discussed as a possible starter in the playoffs, but Foles has dampened such talk, especially with how he played in the NFC title game.
More Fun Facts: Neither of this year’s two head coaches, Bill Belichick of the Patriots or Doug Peterson of the Eagles, is from California. The last head coach from a California high school to win a Super Bowl was Pete Carroll (Larkspur Redwood) in 2014 for the Seattle Seahawks….
California’s total of 12 this year is two fewer than last year, but still came close to once again leading all other states for Super Bowl alums. Texas topped all states this time with 13 while Florida also checked in with 12 to tie California. The Golden State had the highest total last year with 14, had the highest total with 12 in 2016 and in 2015 crushed it with a whopping 22. The state’s all-time highest total of 25 was set in 1995 by the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers and tied in 2008 by the Patriots and New York Giants.
This year’s numbers seemed to be hurt worse than usual by players who are on injured reserves. One of our favorite Super Bowl alums ever, receiver Julian Edelman of the Patriots, has been sidelined all year with a knee injury. He went from unrecruited option QB from Woodside to College of San Mateo to Kent State before making it in the NFL. Among those on the Eagles’ injured reserve list are DB Randall Goforth (Long Beach Poly), DL Aziz Shittu (Atwater Buhach Colony), LB Joe Walker (PV Estates Palos Verdes) and WR Dom Williams (Pomona Garey).