EL PASO, Texas – With the Denver Broncos triumphing in Super Bowl 50 and the game now in the history books, we look back at former Sun Bowl participants who were among this year’s most elite NFL teams.
Perhaps the most impressive among the group is former Oregon running back Jonathon Stewart. Stewart was named the C.M. Hendricks Most Valuable Player in the 2007 Sun Bowl after setting the bowl’s record for rushing yards with 253, and all-purpose yards with 282. In Sunday’s Super Bowl, Stewart scored Carolina’s first touchdown of the game with a remarkable dive over Denver’s defense, finishing with 29 rushing yards in the loss.
Stewart’s former teammate at Oregon, strong safety T.J. Ward, also started in Sunday’s game, however, unlike Stewart, he was clad in orange and blue. He helped the Broncos ensure the Super Bowl title recording seven tackles, one interception and a crucial fumble recovery in the fourth quarter. When Ward wore the same uniform as Stewart in the 2007 Sun Bowl, he contributed to the victory with two solo tackles.
A third former Duck suited up for Super Bowl 50 as 6-foot-4-inch tight end Ed Dickson put on the Panther’s uniform. Dickson helped his previous teammates to the 2007 Sun Bowl championship by recording 16 receiving yards and one touchdown.
Carolina’s starting defensive lineman Star Lotulelei, who played for the Utah Utes in the 2011 Sun Bowl, posted four tackles against the Broncos last Sunday. Lotulelei was named the 2011 Jimmy Rogers Jr. winner, which goes to the most valuable lineman in the Sun Bowl. He helped the Utes to an overtime win over Georgia Tech.
Backup Bronco center Sam Brenner, was alongside Lotulelei on the Utah 2011 Sun Bowl championship team. In 2011, Brenner was a starter in all 13 games for the Utes, only allowing one sack throughout the season. Brenner experienced a neck injury in a late season game against Colorado and had to be taken to the hospital. The junior center didn’t allow that to stop him however, and he returned to the field to help his team to a Sun Bowl Championship.
Brenner, Lotulelei and the Utes were joined in the 2011 Sun Bowl victory by Brian Blechen, a member of Carolina’s practice squad. Blechen contributed to the 30-27 Sun Bowl victory with six tackles.
Panther wide receiver Stephen Hill played for Georgia Tech in the 2011 Sun Bowl. The wide receiver contributed 35 receiving yards and one touchdown in their 2011 loss to The University of Utah.
Joining Hill on the Panthers’ roster was his former teammate Lou Young. Young played for Georgia Tech in 2011 and 2012, when they appeared in the Sun Bowl back to back. Young could not play in the Sun Bowl in 2011, but helped Georgia Tech to victory over USC in 2012 by executing four tackles and breaking up a pass.
Defensive end George Uko, a member of the Broncos’ practice squad, played opposite Hill in the 2012 Sun Bowl matchup between USC and Georgia Tech. Uko, the Trojan All-American, had six tackles in the loss, one of which was a sack.
The 2009 Sun Bowl featured Carolina Panthers’ reserve player, Frank Alexander. Alexander had two tackles to help the Oklahoma Sooners to a 31-27 victory over Stanford.
The 83rd Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl is set for Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 in El Paso, Texas featuring a team from the ACC taking on an opponent out of the Pac-12.
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