So, what about the college careers of Super Bowl MVPs? Michigan is leading that list, due to one quarterback who just had his second retirement. Super Bowl heroes usually starred in college, but there were some at less-heralded locales.
Here’s a look at some of the title game MVPs and their accomplishments in school.
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Eli Manning – University of Mississippi
Eli Manning chose Ole Miss, where his father, Archie, starred as a Rebel (1968-70). Eli Manning had 2,948 passing yards (31 touchdowns, nine interceptions) in his sophomore season (2001).
The team won the 2002 Independence Bowl, beating Nebraska, and 2004 Cotton Bowl, against Oklahoma St. As was the case with older brother Peyton in 1995, Eli was selected first in the 2003 draft. Refusing to sign with the then-San Diego Chargers, he was dealt to the New York Giants. Manning then led Big Blue to a pair of Super Bowls, selected as MVP both times.
Drew Brees – Purdue University
Drew Brees was at Purdue (1997-2000), setting an array of Big Ten passing records. He also led the Boilermakers to a Big Ten Championship and an appearance in the Rose Bowl.
Beginning his career as a “too short” quarterback with the San Diego Chargers. He then went to the New Orleans Saints as a free agent, leading them to their first (and only) championship in 2010. winning Super Bowl MVP honors. He ended his NFL career with more than 80,000 passing yards and 571 touchdowns.
Aaron Rodgers – University of California (Berkeley)
Having struggled to play football all the way to Division I, Aaron Rodgers in high school stood 5-foot-6 and weighed 125 pounds. Rodgers then found his way to Butte Institution, a junior college in Northern California. Then, after a 10-1 record and a NorCal Conference Championship, Rodgers did attract the attention of Cal coaches.
His arm spoke volumes after that, 5,469 passing yards in 43 touchdowns in two seasons with the Bears. Despite the success in Berkeley, Rodgers wasn’t chosen until No. 24 in the ‘05 draft.
He and the Packers were Super Bowl winners in 2011, Rodgers chosen the game’s MVP.
Tom Brady – University of Michigan
Tom Brady, he of the second (and final?) retirement, won an amazing seven Super Bowls (six with the Patriots, one with the Buccaneers). Try five awards as MVP in the title game, more than any other player.
Brady was Michigan’s quarterback (1996-1999), where coach Lloyd Carr described him as having “really strong potential and doing a very good job.”
Brady had some impressive collegiate stats. His 2,427 passing yards (1998) were fourth in the conference, then had 16 touchdowns (six interceptions) in ‘99. In No. 199 the sixth round of the 2000 draft, Brady eventually replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe to rewrite league history.
Patrick Mahomes – Texas Tech University
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes chose the Red Raiders, and it turned out well. He amassed 11,252 passing yards over the course of his three seasons in Lubbock, 93 touchdowns and 29 interceptions (5,053 yards, 41 touchdowns, 10 picks in 2016).
Despite that success, Mahomes wasn’t selected until No. 10 in the 2017 draft. He and the Kansas City Chiefs won the title in 2020, and have a shot at a second as of this writing.
Julian Edelman – Kent St. University
Edelman failed to receive even one scholarship offer after graduating high school as a quarterback. So, after one JUCO season, it was off to Kent St. (2006 to 2008).
Just shy of passing yards over his three seasons in Kent (30 touchdowns, 31 interceptions), he was an all-purpose threat in the Mid-American Conference. Theh, after the Patriots chose him (seventh round, No. 232), Edelman 10 receptions (141 yards) in New England’s Super Bowl win, earning him the MVP award.
Nick Foles – University of Arizona
The Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl title in 2018. Quarterback Nick Foles was the unlikely hero. Viva the “Philly Special.”
Foles had a collegiate career that began at Michigan St. before transferring to Arizona (2009-11). There was a school record 10,011 passing yards with the Wildcats, a completion percentage of 66.8%. Foles was chosen in the third round (No. 88) by the Eagles. Then, after three seasons in Philadelphia, he went to the Rams and Chiefs before returning to Philly in 2017. Foles replaced an injured Carson Wentz, guiding the Birds past the Tom Brady Patriots, 41-33. He has since played in Jacksonville, Chicago and Indianapolis in a transient career.
Von Miller – Texas A&M University
When the Broncos defeated the Panthers, linebacker Von Miller earned the MVP. award. Before that, Miller terrorized Big 12 opponents at Texas A&M (2007 to 2010). With the Aggies’ defense, Miller was both a defensive end and linebacker. finishing first in the NCAA in sacks (17) in ‘09. Miller was honored with the Dick Butkus Award in 2010, top linebacker in the nation,
Denver selected Miller in the first round (No 2) of the 2011 NFL Draft, ironically behind Cam Newton, whom he and the Broncos defeated in that Super Bowl. Miller had 2½ sacks and forced two fumbles, one of which was recovered in the end zone.
Malcolm Smith – University of Southern California
Malcolm Smith won the Super Bowl MVP award in the 2014 game at the Meadowlands, making him the first defensive player to do so in a decade. Smith began his linebacker career at USC (2007-2010).
As was the case with other Super Bowl MVP winners, Smith was a late (seventh)-round draft. He was a key cog in the Seattle Seahawks’ lone title, 10 tackles (six solo) in a rout of Denver.
Joe Flacco – University of Delaware
Joe Flacco, the quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens, was a University of Delaware Blue Hen prior to guiding his team to a Super Bowl title in the 2013 game, 34-31 over the 49ers.
While at Delaware, Flacco set 20 school records, including completions in a game/season. In 2007, Flacco and the Hens advanced to the FCS title game, before losing to Appalachian St.
The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.