By Ben Luli
Super Bowl LIV was the last major sporting event to have a “normal” amount of fans in attendance. NFL.com states 62,000 people attended the Super Bowl last year, but this year there will only be around 25,000 fans at Raymond James Stadium for Super Bowl LV. Youngstown State University alumni are no strangers to the big game. Although there are no former Penguins playing in Super Bowl LV on Sunday, YSU has produced many Super Bowl champions.
According to the YSU football archives, nine former Penguins have graced the gridiron on Super Bowl Sunday. The first YSU graduate on a Super Bowl roster was 1976 graduate Cliff Stoudt, who won Super Bowls XIII and XIV with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Stoudt is the only former YSU player to win the Super Bowl twice. Another former Penguin, 1978 graduate Ed McGlasson, was with the Los Angeles Rams who faced the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV.
Super Bowl XV marked the third Super Bowl in a row YSU was represented. Ron “Jaws”Jaworski, who played at YSU from 1969-1972, led the Philadelphia Eagles to Super Bowl XV, their first Super Bowl appearance and first championship game appearance in 20 years. Despite falling to the Oakland Raiders 27-10, Pro-Football Reference credits Jaworski for setting the record for most completions in the Super Bowl with 18. The current record is 43 set by Tom Brady in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons. 1978 graduate Quentin Lowry’s appearance with Washington in Super Bowl XVII completed a streak of former Penguins making five trips to the big game during a five-year span.
Seventeen years passed until another YSU alumni played in the Super Bowl. Jeff Wilkins, who played at YSU until 1993, was the kicker for the then-St. Louis Rams during Super Bowl XXXIV and XXXVI. Wilkins and Stoudt are the only former Penguins to appear in two Super Bowls. During Super Bowl XXXVI, Wilkins set the record for most career field goal attempts in the Super Bowl with six. The record was later broken by Adam Vinatieri during Super Bowl XLI with the Indianapolis Colts. A year after Wilkins went for a second time with the St. Louis Rams, 2009 graduate Tim Johnson went to Super Bowl XXXVII as a member of the Oakland Raiders. The last former Penguin to reach the Super Bowl during the early 2000s was Russell Stuvaints. Stuvaints, a 2002 graduate, was part of the Steelers team who won Super Bowl XL.
YSU was most recently represented at the Super Bowl by a pair of Penguins. Damoun Patterson and Derek Rivers, who played at YSU between 2014 and 2015, suited up for the New England Patriots at Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams, becoming the eighth and ninth YSU alumni on Super Bowl rosters.
One interesting fact about YSU alumni in the Super Bowl is their impressive record in the big game. Of the nine former Penguins to play in the Super Bowl, six of them have at least one win. Overall, their collective record in the Super Bowl is 7-4.