While the Detroit Lions, Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans all failed to make to make their respective championship games in the 2018 season, they all will still have an impact on the biggest sporting event of the year.
The Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots are both football teams full of influence from Michigan’s many esteemed football teams. Here are a few names that Michigan natives fans may want to keep an eye on in Super Bowl 53.
Ndamukong Suh (DT - Los Angeles Rams)
Suh was the second overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft and was the third part of the Lions triumvirate of elite talent at early draft picks (Calvin Johnson 2007, Matthew Stafford 2009). He was one of the best defensive tackles in the league during his time in Detroit. Suh was the centerpiece of Detroit’s 2014 defense that dominated against the run and carried the team to a playoff berth.
He would leave the team to sign a mega-deal with the Miami Dolphins in 2015. The Dolphins moved on from the defensive tackle as they chose to undergo a full scale rebuild last offseason. Suh joined the Rams last summer and formed one of the greatest defensive lines of all time alongside Aaron Donald. He had 4.5 sacks and 59 tackles in 2018 as he helped his team make their first Super Bowl in nearly two decades.
Kyle Van Noy (LB - New England Patriots)
Van Noy was the Lions second-round selection in 2014. He had an incredible athletic profile and was supposed to be the pass rushing linebacker that could dominate across from fellow BYU product Ezekiel Ansah for years. Unfortunately, injuries hampered his time in Detroit, and he was eventually traded to New England in 2016 after failing to regularly crack the starting lineup.
While it did take him some time to find his footing in New England, Van Noy has developed into a star. He scored two touchdowns in 2018 and was a force coming off of the edge for the Patriots. The former Lion will be playing in his third consecutive Super Bowl this February and has a chance to win his second ring.
LaAdrian Waddle (T - New England Patriots)
Waddle was picked up by Detroit as an undrafted free agent in 2013. It took him less than a full season to take over the starting role at tackle and did fine at the position. Injuries derailed his career as a Lion, though, and he was waived from the team in 2015.
He was immediately claimed by the Patriots. While he never became a regular starter for the team, he played all 16 regular season games in 2018—mostly getting work on special teams and even earned a few starts filling in for injuries. Waddle earned his first Super Bowl ring in 2016 and now has a chance at earning a second this season.
Jamil Demby (G - Los Angeles Rams)
Demby was initially drafted by the Rams in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL draft. The rookie failed to make the team’s final roster, though, and was waived. Detroit picked him up off of waivers. He was eventually demoted to their practice squad but Detroit lost him when the Rams snagged him off of the Lions practice squad a few weeks into the season.
The guard has yet to play an NFL snap, but has a chance to win a Super Bowl ring in a few weeks.
Tom Brady (QB - New England Patriots)
The most successful player in NFL history has ties to the Great Lake State (in case you somehow didn’t know). Brady was a two-year starter at the University of Michigan. He led the Wolverines to two 10-win seasons and threw for over 4,700 yards and 30 touchdowns during his time wearing the maize and blue.
A poor athletic profile led to him falling all the way to the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft, where he was eventually selected by the Patriots. He will now appear in his ninth career Super Bowl as he tries to win his sixth Super Bowl—both NFL records.
Michigan State Spartans
Brian Hoyer (QB - New England Patriots)
While the Patriots have a Wolverine under center, they have a Spartan on the bench as an emergency button. Hoyer took over as the Michigan Spartans quarterback in 2006. He threw for over 6,100 yards and 35 touchdowns as a Spartan before heading to the NFL in 2009. The Patriots nabbed him as an undrafted free agent, but his first stint for the team ended in 2011.
Hoyer is the epitome of a journeyman quarterback. He has played for seven NFL franchises and started for almost all of them at some point. In 2015, he started in a playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs as a member of the Houston Texans, and his team got absolutely hammered in an embarrassing 30-0 loss. Super Bowl 53 will be Hoyer’s first chance to win a title, but it is unlikely he will have any impact on the game.
Brian Allen (C - Los Angeles Rams)
Allen started 38 career games for the Spartans between 2015 and 2017. The interior offensive lineman can line up at both guard and center but was officially listed as the latter when Los Angeles selected him in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL draft.
The center was featured in 12 games in 2018, mostly making an impact on special teams. As a rookie, this will be his first chance to win a Super Bowl.
Oak Park High School
John Kelly (RB - Los Angeles Rams)
Kelly started the path to the Super Bowl at Oak Park High in Wayne County, Michigan. The Detroit native played offense, defense and special teams for the Knights and was one of the team’s stars during his time there. Kelly graduated in 2015.
He was recruited by the Tennessee Volunteers and played in the SEC for three years before entering the 2018 NFL draft. He was selected by the Rams in the sixth round and spent much of the year behind star tailback Todd Gurley. He had 99 yards from scrimmage this season and now has a chance to win a Super Bowl in his rookie yearn.