As Super Bowl XLVIII approaches, the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks are deep into their preparations for what promises to be a game to remember. As they look forward to their titanic clash in the New Jersey swamp lands, several University of Tennessee alumni figure to be prominently involved. While the obvious, and most well-known, alumni is Peyton Manning, there are ormer Volunteers on the defensive side of the ball that figure to be prominently involved in the Super Bowl's outcome. The Denver Broncos will suit up defensive ends Robert Ayers and Malik Jackson, while defensive tackle Tony McDaniel will line up for the Seattle Seahawks. Their presence, along with Manning and Broncos Punter Britton Colquitt, ensure that the Tennessee Volunteers will be well-represented this Sunday at Metlife Stadium.
The former 18th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Robert Ayers is concluding his fifth season in the NFL. The converted defensive end didn't become a starter at the University of Tennessee until his senior season, but he's making the most of his NFL chance. During his time in Denver, he has alternated between defensive end and outside linebacker. He has played in 15 games and had three starts, amassing 29 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and a forced fumble for the Broncos. While his impact has been minimal during the Broncos' postseason run, he will nonetheless be called upon to pressure Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Sunday will mark his first trip to the Super Bowl.
A second-year defensive end, Malik Jackson will also be making his first appearance in the Super Bowl. A transfer from the University of Southern California, he arrived in Knoxville before the start of his junior season. After starting at defensive end for two standout years, he entered the 2012 NFL Draft and was selected by the Denver Broncos as the 167th pick. He has continued his stellar play during his time as a Bronco. This season he has played every game and had five starts, which has resulted in 42 tackles, 6.0 sacks, and a forced fumble. Jackson, along with Ayers, will be key in the Broncos' defensive game plan.
Of the former Volunteers in Super Bowl XLVIII, Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Tony McDaniel has the most NFL experience. After playing for three years in Knoxville, he was dismissed from the team after a campus incident. The Jacksonville Jaguars picked him up in 2006 after he went undrafted. In 2009, he was sent to the Miami Dolphins via trade. After four years with the Dolphins, McDaniel signed a one-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks during the past off-season. He has made the most of his latest opportunity, as he has totaled 53 tackles (the most of his career) and two sacks this season. Like the previous two, Sunday will be McDaniel's first Super Bowl appearance.
(all stats courtesy of NFL.com)
Edited by Will Lomas