Former FCS players off to Super Bowl LI
(STATS) - Super Bowl-bound!
Former FCS standouts will hope to play major roles in football's biggest game when the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons square off in Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5 at Houston's NRG Stadium.
On Sunday, the Patriots captured the AFC championship just hours after the Falcons won the NFC title.
The most unique story line may belong to Patriots starting wide receiver Chris Hogan, a former Penn State lacrosse player who went on to play one season of football at Monmouth. He had a huge role in the Patriots' 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, setting the team's postseason record with 180 receiving yards on nine catches, with two going for touchdowns.
Fullback and special teams standout James Develin (Brown), quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois) and tight end Matt Lengel (Eastern Kentucky) also are members of the Patriots, while linebacker Trevor Bates (Maine) is on the practice squad.
Cornerback Robert Alford, in his fourth season out of Southeastern Louisiana, is a starter for the Falcons. He had five solo tackles and three passes defended in their 44-21 rout of the Green Bay Packers.
In addition, the Falcons' roster includes linebacker Paul Worrilow (Delaware), cornerback Deji Olatoye (North Carolina A&T), offensive tackle Tom Compton (South Dakota), and wide receivers Taylor Gabriel (Abilene Christian) and Eric Weems (Bethune-Cookman). Outside linebacker Tyler Starr (South Dakota) is on injured reserve.
To score another one for the so-called small schools, the two Super Bowl head coaches played at and graduated from Division III schools - the Patriots' Bill Belichick from Wesleyan and the Falcons' Dan Quinn from Salisbury State (now Salisbury University).