St. Xavier Grad Kuechly To Play In Super Bowl 50

02/07/2016

Posted on 2/7/2016 at 5:59 p.m.

Former Bombers’ Standout Vies To Add NFL Championship To Impressive Resume

St. Xavier High School graduate Luke Kuechly, a standout linebacker for the Carolina Panthers, will attempt to lead his team to its first NFL title when he plays in Super Bowl 50 tonight.  The NFC champion Panthers face the AFC champion Denver Broncos at 6:30 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.  The game will be televised on CBS (Local 12) with The Super Bowl Today pre-game show set to begin at 2.

If the Panthers win, Kuechly will become the third Greater Catholic South Division alum since 2000 to play on a Super Bowl winning  team, and the second from St. Xavier – joining former Bomber Rocky Boiman, a 1998 St. Xavier graduate who was a member of the Indianapolis Colts’ team that beat the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in Super Bowl XLI in Miami on February 4, 2007.  Boiman, also a linebacker, had an outstanding college at Notre Dame.

Speaking of Indianapolis, that was the site of Super Bowl XLVI four years ago – when former Moeller star Greg Jones was a member of the New York Giants winning team after being selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft that year out of Michigan State University.  Jones wound up starting at linebacker after Jonathan Goff was sidelined with an injury.  The Giants defeated New England, 21-17, at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012.

Kuechly, regarded by many NFL analysts as the league’s best linebacker, is enjoying another outstanding season.  The ninth pick overall in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Boston College, Kuechly is a three-time first-team All-Pro who had a career-best four interceptions in  the regular season before returning two for touchdowns in the NFC  playoffs, leaving him behind only Asante Samuel (four) and Hall of Famer Willie Brown (three) in NFL history.

Nicknamed “Captain America” by Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton, Kuechly has been an impact player every year. He was named the Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 after leading the league in tackles with a franchise-record 205 that season, and then became the youngest player to be named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013.   In 2014, Kuechly led the NFL in tackles again, with 153, and won the Butkus Award as the NFL’s top linebacker for the second time in his young career.

At St. Xavier, Kuechly was a member of the Bombers’ second state championship team as a junior in 2007 – helping coach Steve Specht’s team post a perfect 15-0 record, outscoring the opposition, 452-144, that season.  St. Xavier defeated Mentor, 27-0, in the state final.  Kuechly was a two-time All-GCL South performer at linebacker.  St. Xavier won its first big-school state title in 2005.