MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens begin preparations for Super Bowl XLVII, both teams will be looking to players from the University of Miami to make some game-changing plays in the game.
The Ravens have three stars on the roster with UM ties and all play key positions on the field. The first is middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who will be playing in his final game in this year’s Super Bowl. Lewis will call it a career after the game and hopes to go out a winner in his final game.
Lewis, arguably the best defensive player in a generation, played in just six games this season and finished the year with 57 tackles and 1 sack. For his storied, 17-year career, Lewis has 2,051 total tackles, 41.5 sacks, and 31 interceptions.
The former UM star has been the heart and soul of the Ravens team since he joined the squad in 1996 as the team’s second first-round pick after moving to Baltimore. Incidentally, the pick Baltimore used to select Lewis was acquired by Bill Belichick when he was still with the team in Cleveland.
Lewis and the Ravens will be playing on artificial turf inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and that will fit the team just fine as they are on an artificial surface when playing in Baltimore.
Joining Lewis on the defensive side of the ball is safety Ed Reed, also out of “The U.” Reed is the quintessential ball hawk of a safety who has manned the Ravens’ secondary since being drafted in 2002.
Reed has given opposing quarterbacks nightmares for years as he’s intercepted 61 passes during his 11-year career. He’s also pulled down 505 tackles and six sacks in his storied days in Baltimore.
Reed is probably best remembered by Hurricanes fans for his game-saving play against Boston College in 2001. Reed took the ball from his teammate after a turnover and ran 80 yards for a touchdown that helped secure the win for the Canes during the national championship season.
On the other side of the ball for the Ravens, the left tackle position in the Super Bowl is likely to be manned by 11-year veteran Bryan McKinnie. Mount McKinnie, as he’s affectionately known, has given the Ravens key flexibility along the line during the Super Bowl run.
McKinnie, 6’8”, 360 pounds, allowed the Ravens to move Michael Oher back to his more natural position of right tackle to form one of the best right sides in football with Oher and Marshall Yanda at right guard.
McKinnie is flanked by rookie Kelechi Osemele at left guard and veteran center Matt Birk is the glue that holds the line together. McKinnie spent most of his career in Minnesota and will be playing in his first Super Bowl this year.
When the 49ers have the ball their offense will have a South Florida connection in the form of running back Frank Gore. The eight-year veteran has spent his entire career with the 49ers and is making his first appearance in the Super Bowl this year.
Gore has been a workhorse for the 49ers over the last two seasons, gaining 2,425 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground along with 45 receptions for 348 yards and one touchdown through the air.
Gore ran 21 times for 90 yards and two big touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. But Gore’s presence has been more than just about rushing the football.
The 49ers have been utilizing the read-option play since Colin Kaepernick became the team’s starting quarterback and Gore is key to the play. Kaepernick will put the ball into Gore’s belly and based on wha the defensive end does, will either leave the ball with Gore or pull it out and take off himself.
Gore has been carrying out both the fakes and the runs with deadly accuracy and kept defensive players off balance since Kaepernick got into the starting lineup.
Both the Ravens and 49ers are hoping to walk out of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as the champion of Super Bowl XLVII. Whoever wins the game, they will be relying on a player from “The U” to make the big plays when the teams need them.
Super Bowl XLVII will be seen exclusively on CBS this year in two weeks.