Seward (Neb.) native Sam Koch was a walk-on punter for Nebraska.
By Randy York
Nebraska fans who like to use the word relevant should love this statistic: Because Seward (Neb.) native Sam Koch (pronounced Cook) is the Baltimore Ravens’ ultra-dependable punter, Nebraska now can claim an active NFL roster representative in 20 consecutive Super Bowls – the longest such streak of any national college football program. Somehow, in my mind, that’s an interesting fact to communicate with the recruiting season beginning its stretch run to signing day.
According to Nebraska media relations assistant AD Keith Mann, the Huskers’ 20 consecutive years with at least one former player on a Super Bowl roster is six years ahead of No. 2 Purdue. Ohio State, LSU, Georgia and Illinois have reached 12 consecutive years with that statistical status, followed by Florida with 11, Iowa with 10 and Texas with eight. Mann said the statistics were compiled by Dan Apple, assistant communications director for the University of Florida. There is one caveat to Nebraska’s list. Technically, the Chicago Bears placed Husker All-America safety Mike Brown on injured reserve during the 2007 regular season, but he received his full Super Bowl share based on his official roster spot.
Former Husker wingback and Buffalo Bill running back Nate Turner started Nebraska’s streak in 1993. Even though he did not play in that Super Bowl, he was on the Bills’ official roster. The streak has continued with San Diego’s and Oakland’s John Parrella (two Super Bowls), Pittsburgh’s Brenden Stai and Donta Jones, Green Bay’s Calvin Jones and Tyrone Williams (two Super Bowls), Denver’s Neil Smith (two Super Bowls) and Tony Veland, Atlanta’s Michael Booker, Tennessee’s Doug Colman, St. Louis’/Seattle’s Grant Wistrom (three Super Bowls), New York Giants’ Christian Peter, Oakland’s Eric Johnson and Adam Treu, New England’s Russ Hochstein (three Super Bowls), Carolina’s Mike Minter and Mike Rucker, Seattle’s Josh Brown, Chicago’s Mike Brown, New England’s Le Kevin Smith, Arizona’s Ralph Brown, Indianapolis’ Cody Glenn, New Orleans’ Carl Nicks and Scott Shanle, Green Bay’s Brandon Jackson and the New York Giants’ Prince Amukamara last year.
It’s nostalgic when names pop up in championship games that determine Super Bowl qualifiers. When 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s name rolled through my high-def screen on Sunday, he was mentioned with two other Super Bowl starting quarterbacks with the least number of previous starts. Nebraska’s own Vince Ferragamo (who started with the LA Rams in the 1979 Super Bowl with fellow Husker George Andrews on that same team) was one name. The other Super Bowl quarterback with the fewest starts was Jeff Hostetler (NY Giants).
Who were the first two Huskers ever to play in a Super Bowl? That would be Oakland cornerback Kent McCloughan and Raider safety Warren Powers in Super Bowl ll. They were followed by Minnesota’s Mick Tingelhoff (four Super Bowls) and three Huskers who played for the Washington Redskins in the 1972 Super Bowl – Pat Fischer, Ron McDole and Ted Vactor.
Following those trailblazers were Minnesota’s Joe Blahak (on the official roster but did not play) and Oakland’s Monte Johnson, Rick Bonness and David Humm (two Super Bowls). Next came Philadelphia’s Raymond Phillips, the LA Raiders’ Bob Nelson (two Super Bowls), San Francisco’s Willie Harper, Cincinnati’s Rod Horn and Miami’s Andra Franklin.
Who can forget Nebraska’s ever-popular Roger Craig, who played and starred in Super Bowl Nos. 19, 23 and 24 for the 49ers? He was followed by Miami’s Bill Barnett, New England’s Irving Fryar, Chicago’s Mitch Krenk and Henry Waechter, Washington’s Brian Davis, San Francisco’s Tom Rathman (two Super Bowls), Cincinnati’s Jim Skow, San Francisco’s Jamie Williams and Denver’s Marc Munford.
Koch becomes Husker No. 54 to make a Super Bowl, dating back to that second world title game following the 1967 season. Overall, Koch will enable a Husker to be represented in 34 of the first 47 Super Bowls … an impressive feat indeed and especially for those who dream about that experience growing up and think about the best programs that can make that dream come true.
We end this blog with an interesting study. An NFL sponsor published research entitled A Look at the winningest college football programs based on NFL draftee numbers from 1992-2011. Nebraska ranks No. 5 on that list, followed by Notre Dame, Georgia, Penn State, Michigan, Alabama and Oklahoma (Texas ranks No. 15). As a conference, the Big Ten is a solid No. 2 overall with 146 more NFL draft choices during that period than the No. 3-ranked Pac-12 and 172 more NFL draft choices than the No. 4-ranked Big 12.
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