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Pac-12 as well represented at Super Bowl as SEC

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The Pac-12 conference brands itself as the “conference of champions” and regardless of the outcome of Super Bowl XLIX, a significant number of Pac-12 alumni will be crowned champions Sunday night.

The Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots feature a bevy of former Pac-12 players. The Patriots have 10 Pac-12 alumni on their active roster while the Seahawks feature eight.

By comparison, the vaunted SEC has the same number of players playing in the Super Bowl. The Big Ten boasts 17.

Oregon has the most representation of any Pac-12 school at the Super Bowl with four players; Stanford has three.

The influx of Pac-12 talent in the league hasn’t escaped former UCLA wide receiver Matthew Slater, competing in his second Super Bowl with the Patriots.

“Every time I see a Pac-12 guy I like to point it out to my teammates.” the seven-year NFL veteran said. “You know we’re proud of our conference and the way we’ve represented ourselves.”

Slater said the conference is recruiting better talent, which has translated to more Pac-12 players making it to the NFL.

“It gives you a little sense of pride, especially if they’re Stanford guys,” said former Stanford Cardinal and Patriots offensive lineman Cameron Fleming. “You love to see guys from your school do well, and guys from the Pac-12. Because everybody (in the NFL) holds on to their little conferences, and it’s like you against the world.”

Even with the heavy Pac-12 presence, former UCLA Bruin and Patriots linebacker Akeem Ayers said the conference gets overlooked because of the late starting times for some its games.

“Still we definitely have a lot of talent in the Pac-12,” Ayers said. “Just seeing the people you played against grow from college to the NFL and getting to see them and compete against them still is a lot of fun.”

The success of former Pac-12 players is an inspiration to current Pac-12 players who dream of flourishing at the next level.

“For us guys, especially going into our senior seasons, it’s exciting to see these guys competing at the highest level of football,” Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici said. “The Pac-12 guys will tell you they’re the smartest, they’re the fastest and they’re the strongest in the league.”

Bercovici said he always roots for Pac-12 players in the NFL and many Pac-12 fans still root for their school’s alumni on the professional level.

“We got a great following, the Trojan family is always strong,” said Seattle Seahawk and former USC linebacker Malcolm Smith. “I look forward to it being the same way when I’m done playing.”

Pac-12 Super Bowl players also are receiving support from Pac-12 fans on social media and other communication outlets. But who will the Pac-12 fans root for in the Super Bowl?

“I guess it just depends where the (Pac-12) fan lives,” Fleming said. “If they’re on the east coast they’ll be rooting for us, if they live on the west coast they’ll be rooting for them.”