Hogs in Super Bowl: Five former Razorbacks and ex-coach Bielema on rosters for NFL championship game

Flowers leads contingent in Atlanta

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Sunday, February 3, 2019
New England Patriots defensive lineman Trey Flowers answers questions during opening night for the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game at State Farm Arena, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)
New England Patriots defensive lineman Trey Flowers answers questions during opening night for the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game at State Farm Arena, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)

The Arkansas Razorbacks of the Bret Bielema era struggled to "get to Atlanta," the term used for teams that qualify for the SEC Championship Game.

Now Bielema and several Razorbacks from that time have gotten to Atlanta for an even bigger prize.

Five former Razorbacks and Bielema are on the rosters for the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams, who meet in Super Bowl 53 on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The most noteworthy participant among the former Hogs is defensive lineman Trey Flowers, who is preparing for his third consecutive Super Bowl.

Flowers embodied the 2014 Razorbacks, who were battling out of a long winless SEC drought just like the 2019 Arkansas team.

A senior team captain in 2014, Flowers endeared himself to Arkansas fans, particularly after the Razorbacks lost a 10-point lead in a 17-10 loss at No. 1 Mississippi State.

Those Razorbacks emerged from their struggles with back-to-back shutouts of No. 17 LSU and No. 8 Ole Miss Miss in harsh weather conditions on back-to-back Saturdays at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Flowers emerged professionally in his second season with the Patriots in 2016. The 6-2, 265-pound defensive lineman from Huntsville, Ala., racked up 6 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 5 quarterback hits in a dominating performance in Houston as the Patriots overcame the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime in Super Bowl 51 after the 2016 season. He was in on 5 tackles, including 1 for a loss in last year's 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis.

Flowers, 25, will play his final game Sunday before entering free agency. He has a team-high 7.5 sacks this season and 21.5 sacks in the last three years.

Flowers and Deatrich Wise Jr., an Arkansas senior in 2016, play on the defensive line for the Patriots, who frequently mix personnel on their front. Flowers has played at every spot on the defensive line at New England, including nose guard. Wise, who has dealt with an ankle injury late in the season, was inactive for the Patriots' 37-31 overtime victory at Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game.

Bielema, a long-time friend of New England Coach Bill Belichick, is completing his first season as a consultant with the Patriots. There is speculation he could become the next defensive coordinator for the Patriots, who will reportedly lose coordinator Brian Flores to the Miami Dolphins after Sunday's game. According to the Boston Globe, Bielema "has been telling people that he is going to become the Patriots defensive coordinator" after the season.

The New England roster also features ex-Arkansas receiver Cody Hollister, a senior in 2016, who is on reserve/non-football injury status, and former All-SEC offensive tackle Dan Skipper, also a senior in 2016, who is on the practice squad.

Fayetteville's Brandon Allen, a three-year starter for the Hogs and the Arkansas record holder for touchdown passes in a game with seven, is on the Rams' practice squad.

"We have actually five people here so it's really special," Allen told Little Rock's KLRT-TV in Atlanta. "Very proud to be here and very proud of where I came from, Arkansas."

Flowers has carved out a name for himself for being a devoted team player on a New England defense that lacks flashy personnel.

He spoke about his favorite memory at Arkansas, and even recited the Razorbacks fight song, during media day in Atlanta on Monday.

"Favorite memory at Arkansas? That would have to be when we beat LSU my senior year," Flowers said. "We got the Boot back and everybody stormed the field. Yeah, that was a good memory."

Arkansas snapped a 17-game SEC losing streak with that 17-0 shutout of the Tigers on Nov. 15, 2014.

Flowers was asked about New England's run of Super Bowl appearances.

"You've definitely got to understand that you can't get complacent," Flowers said. "Just because we've been here the third time, that don't mean it's guaranteed every year. You work hard, put in a lot of hours, a lot of practice, a lot of meetings.

"I think all the guys understand you can't take it for granted. ... Guys may seem a little bit lax, but we all know what we came here to do and what we're focused on.

"Some people may look at us and say it may come easy to us, but it's definitely not easy."

Arkies in Atlanta

Former Arkansas Razorbacks affiliated with teams in Sunday’s Super Bowl:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Bret Bielema Consultant

Trey Flowers Defensive lineman

Cody Hollister* Wide receiver

Dan Skipper** Offensive lineman

Deatrich Wise Jr. Defensive lineman

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Brandon Allen** Quarterback

Injured reserve *Practice squad

Sports on 02/01/2019

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