By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Nick Collins made one of the bigger plays when the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in last year's Super Bowl.
In two weeks, plenty of former FCS players have the opportunity to be game- changers, particularly those from the NFC champion New York Giants, who will play the AFC champion New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis.
The former FCS players will hope to live up to Collins' interception return for a touchdown in Green Bay's win last February. Collins, one of six Packers on that team who played collegiately in the FCS, is from Bethune-Cookman.
Cruz is in his second season out of Massachusetts. In Sunday's NFC Championship Game win, he caught 10 passes for 142 yards against a San Francisco 49ers defense that was one of the best in the NFL this season.
"We always believed," Cruz said. "I don't even know how to put this into words as far as what this means to me. We weren't just happy to be here and it's just been an amazing ride. But we're not done yet."
Another of the key Giants is seventh-year running back Brandon Jacobs from Southern Illinois. The bruising starter, who is closing in on 5,000 career yards, often operates behind left guard/center Kevin Boothe, who is in his sixth season out of Cornell.
Other Giants from FCS schools are special teams standout Zak DeOssie, a fifth- year linebacker out of Brown; wide receiver Ramses Barden, in his third season out of Cal Poly; fourth-year cornerback Michael Coe from Alabama State, who is on injured reserve; and William & Mary practice squad player Adrian Tracy, out of William & Mary.
Star defensive end Osi Umenyiora and kicker Lawrence Tynes played at Troy before the program moved from Division I-AA (now FCS) to Division I-A (now FBS).
The Patriots have three starters from FCS programs: Dan Connolly, a 6-foot-4, 313-pound center who is in his sixth season out of Southeast Missouri State; fifth-year safety James Ihedigbo from Massachusetts; and cornerback Kyle Arrington, who is in his third season out of Hofstra's former program.
Arrington, who was third on the team with 77 tackles during the regular season, is backed by Antwaun Molden, a fourth-year cornerback out of Eastern Kentucky.
In addition, the Patriots have linebackers Tracy White, in his ninth season out of Howard, and Dane Fletcher, in his second season out of Montana State.
Cornerback Ross Ventrone is a practice squad player in his second season out of Villanova.