The San Francisco 49ers have two former UVA football players making their first Super Bowl appearances against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday. Seven-year pro Ahmad Brooks and rookie Cam Johnson will strive to ensure a Wahoo celebrates a Super Bowl win for the second straight year, as Chris Canty won with the New York Giants last season.
Linebacker Ahmad Brooks began his career with the Bengals, then moved to San Francisco before the 2009 season. He started all 16 games this year, recording 34 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and an interception that he returned for a touchdown. Brooks sprained his shoulder in the NFC Championship game against the Falcons but expects to play Sunday.
At Virginia, Brooks was one of the nation's top college linebackers, marked by his spot as one of three finalists for the Dick Butkus award during his sophomore season. However, his junior year was cut short by injury, and Brooks was dismissed because of off-field incidents despite his decision to return for his senior year. Instead, he entered the NFL draft where he was selected in the third round.
Cam Johnson, another outside linebacker, was recently promoted by the 49ers from the practice squad. He saw time on special teams during the final two weeks of the regular season but has not appeared during the playoffs. Johnson graduated from Virginia last year after a successful four-year career. Despite nagging knee issues, he started all 12 games his senior season. Perhaps his most memorable moment came in 2011's come-from-behind victory at Indiana, when Johnson forced a fumble in a tie game with under 2 minutes remaining, leading to the game-winning field goal.
According to ESPN, 21 Virginia athletes currently play in the NFL, seven of whom competed in the playoffs this season.
The big game this Sunday starts at 3 PM. And upon the conclusion of UVA basketball's match-up at Georgia Tech, the Super Bowl kicks off at 6:30.