A little over a year ago, then Nebraska defensive tackle Vincent Valentine made the decision to enter the NFL draft with a year of college eligibility still remaining. His teammate, Maliek Collins, also a junior at that point, had made the same decision two weeks earlier.
It wasn’t a surprise with Collins, who everyone assumed was off the league and had the draft profile to match, but Valentine could’ve gone either way. Injuries kept him out of three games in 2015 and Valentine only recorded 10 total tackles that season. He wasn’t leaving Lincoln on the strongest note and was projected as a fifth- to seventh-round pick. One writer called Valentine’s decision a “critical mistake.”
But we know now that it wasn’t a mistake. Valentine was selected in the third round by the New England Patriots, the most dominant team of this century. He played in 13 games, starting two, and made 19 total tackles in the regular season. Last night, during the Patriots’ win over the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game, Valentine came up with a key stop near the New England goal line, delighting Nebraska’s current defensive line coach:
Parrella never got the chance to coach Valentine, but I presume he would have loved the opportunity. Nevertheless, Valentine’s early departure ended up extending Nebraska’s nation-leading streak of former players in the Super Bowl:
Valentine and the Patriots were Nebraska’s only chance to keep that streak alive yesterday. Granted, if you only had one chance to do that you’d want the Patriots to be your “horse,” but congratulations to Vince.
Nebraska has one alum in the Super Bowl for the 24th consecutive season, but which school has the most former players in the game?
If you guessed Alabama, you’re right. Sort of. The Crimson Tide has four former players on active rosters for the two Super Bowl teams, but so does LSU, Stanford and…wait for it…Rutgers.
Mike Riley also has two of his former players in the game: Falcons’ offensive lineman Andy Levitre — whose wife watched Atlanta’s playoff win over Seattle at the Georgia Dome while in labor — and Falcons’ running back Terron Ward.
The Grab Bag
- Is there too much money in college football? I don’t know but Michigan is mulling a plan to take its football team to Rome during the final week of spring ball.
- Interesting look at the trend of high school football players enrolling early.
- J.T. Barrett says coordinator changes were part of the reason he returned to Ohio State.
- LSU is no longer taking a live tiger to home games, but still insists upon having one.
Today’s Song of Today