Four Bulldogs Headed to Super Bowl
Feb. 2, 2008
FRESNO, Calif. - There will be plenty of interest on the Fresno State campus for Super Bowl XLII, with four former Bulldogs who played under Pat Hill taking center stage in the sport's biggest game.
The undefeated New England Patriots feature three Bulldogs, including two standout starters in Pro Bowl offensive guard Logan Mankins and free safety James Sanders. Tight end Stephen Spach, a late-season acquisition for the Pats, was a team mate with both Sanders and Mankins for Fresno State. All three players are Valley natives, two of which walked-on to the Bulldog program.
On the other side of the field is New York Giants' running back Derrick Ward, a former record-setting player for Hill. Most fans will remember Ward for a fantastic freshman season in 1999, when he set Bulldog records for rushing yards by a rookie and helping the Dogs win the WAC title and earn a spot in the Las Vegas Bowl.
"We are certainly proud of all of the Bulldogs in the NFL," said head football coach Pat Hill. "I think our program develops player to achieve at a high level and having this many guys still in the NFL playoffs is proof of that. We have some guys who've been major contributors all season all over he NFL and it will be good to once again have some Bulldogs represent Fresno State in the Super Bowl."
Since Mankins joined the team in 2004 he has started in every game and was selected for the 2008 Pro Bowl after just three seasons. Mankins earned second-team All-America honors and first-team All-WAC in 2004 for the Bulldogs. Mankins was also the only offensive lineman to get team MVP honors.
Sanders also received First-Team All-WAC honors while he attended Fresno State as a strong safety in 2003 and 2004. In three seasons he recorded 238 tackles as a Bulldog and as a freshman earned First-team Freshman All- American selection by the Football Writers of America and third-team honors from The Sporting News. Sanders has started in every game this year for the Patriots recording 71 tackles and two interceptions.
Spach is the third Bulldog on the Patriots roster. Spach was signed as a free agent this year in a reserve role on tight end. Spach is best remembered at Fresno State for his game-winning touchdown in the MPC Computers Bowl in 2004.
Ward won't see playing time as he was put on injury reserve after he broke his leg against the Chicago Bears. Originally a seventh round draft choice by the New York Jets in 2004, he then signed to the Giants later that year. Ward, who is in his fourth year, leads the Giants in rushing with 602 yards despite missing the previous four games with ankle and groin injuries.
With 22 former Bulldogs currently active in the NFL, at least one of them will earn a Super Bowl ring Sunday.