Former Penn State stars do battle in Super Bowl LII

UNIVERSITY PARK – Two Penn Staters. Two NFL teams. Two entirely different paths to Super Bowl LII.

When the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles clash in Super Bowl LII on Sunday in Minneapolis, a couple of former Nittany Lions will be gunning for Super Bowl rings.

On the New England side of the field, there’s Chris Hogan, the NFL cast-off turned Super Bowl champion. By now, you know Hogan’s story. He didn’t even play football at Penn State. Instead, he played lacrosse and played just one season of Division I football.

Now, he’s going for his second Super Bowl ring.

The 2017 campaign was filled with ups and downs for Hogan. He started the season strong but then missed the final eight regular season games because of an injury.

“Obviously, you never want to have an injury setback like that,” Hogan said at Super Bowl LII media day. “The year started off pretty well and the injury was definitely frustrating.”

But Hogan returned for the postseason. He was targeted eight times and caught three balls for 24 yards in playoff wins over the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. Against the Titans, he had a 4-yard TD. He also played a lot on special teams.

With the win Sunday, the Patriots will tie the Steelers with the most Super Bowl wins – six. Hogan knows that he’s a part of history.

“I’ve worked as hard as I could and I’m very grateful to the Patriots for keeping me on the roster so I’d have a chance to play in these games,” Hogan said. “My focus was always trying to get better and helping the team any way I could.”

As for Stefen Wisniewski, he did play football at Penn State – and did it extremely well. In fact, the name Wisniewski is part of Penn State lore. Steve Wisniewski was an eight-time Pro Bowler and played left guard. He spent his 13-year career with the Raiders. Yes, the same Raiders that drafted Stefen.

Leo Wisniewski also went to Penn State and played three season for the Baltimore and Indianapolis Colts.

Stefen is the first Wisniewski to play in a Super Bowl.

To say he’s excited would be an understatement.

“It’s definitely pretty cool to be the first Wisniewski to go to the Super Bowl,’’ Wisniewski said at Super Bowl media day. “It’s actually pretty tough to be the first Wisniewski to do anything in football because those two guys have done a lot of great stuff before me. Obviously, I’m hoping to be the first one to get a ring.”

Penn State has played a vital role in the lives of the Wisniewskis.

“I grew up watching Leo at Penn State and going up there summers to visit him,’’ Steve told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I remember Joe Paterno recruiting Leo and he said to me, ‘One day we’ll be recruiting you.’ I was 12 years old, and it made a lifetime impression. Penn State felt like home. Those beautiful and ugly white uniforms. We probably have seven family members who went to Penn State. All of our wives, Stefen’s sister. There’s a lot of Penn State pride there.”

Super Bowl LII will kick off at 6 p.m. on NBC.

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