By Jose Saldana
- Stanford football alumni have had great performances during the 2017 NFL season. The debuts of top-10 picks rookies running back Christian McCaffrey and defensive end Solomon Thomas have captured the interest of their teams’ fanbases. Not only that but the sustained success of players such as tight ends Zach Ertz and Austin Hooper and offensive linemen David DeCastro and Andrus Peat has Stanford on the lips of many fans as a bonafide NFL factory.
Now with only one game remaining, the LII Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, Stanford alumni continue to participate on the grandest stage in football.
Four players, tied for the most of any college, represent the Cardinal in the Super Bowl.
The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the best tight ends in the league in Ertz. A Rose Bowl winner and a second round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Ertz was expected to rise to the top in the City of Brotherly Love. He finished with 469 receiving yards and four touchdowns his rookie year.
After a few seasons of solid play, Ertz exploded in the final game of the 2016 season against the Dallas Cowboys. He had 13 receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns, and it was sign of things to come for the former Cardinal. His breakout 2017 season saw him catch a career-high eight touchdowns. Because of his success, Ertz was voted to his first Pro Bowl.
The Patriots employ the other three Stanford alumni: Cameron Fleming, Johnson Bademosi and Jordan Richards.
Offensive tackle Cameron Fleming was a fourth round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft. He attended Stanford from 2010-13, and he redshirted his first year on campus.
After a collegiate career where he made the All-Pac-12 second team, Fleming declared for the draft with a year of eligibility. He was drafted by the Patriots and was actually cut by the team heading into that season. He found playing time starting in the 2016 season, as he played in 16 games, including five starts.
This season, he has started six more games for New England at right tackle. Starting at the right tackle spot for the Super Bowl, Fleming will hope to add another Super Bowl victory to his resume after winning one last year against the Falcons.
Safety Jordan Richards is second on the depth chart for the Patriots behind Patrick Chung. The former Stanford captain and All-Pac-12 first team was drafted in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft by New England. He played 16 games and started five games this season and accumulated a career-high 26 combined tackles, a pass defense and one forced fumble.
Although draft pundits criticized the Patriots’ selection of Richards, he has been a valuable member of a defense in, now, two Super Bowls.
The final Stanford alumnus playing in the Super Bowl is cornerback Johnson Bademosi. He started his career undrafted in 2012. He signed with the Cleveland Browns and became a special teams phenom for them. Bademosi led the team in special teams tackles in four years with the Browns.
As a free agent, he signed with the Detroit Lions, but he was a traded a year later for a 2019 sixth round pick to New England. Now, with the Patriots, Bademosi is gunning for his second championship.
Not bad for an undrafted player, right?
The LII Super Bowl is this Sunday at 3:30 p.m. PT in Minneapolis, and it is broadcasted by NBC.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.