Alan Dell

Commentary: Silent majority speak out in Super Bowl

Call them the silent majority.

They had no paper to put their signature on during last week’s national signing day and few cared what they had to say.

While the faces of four and five star recruits beamed across the country amid all kinds of ballyhoo these young men stood quiet.

But that doesn’t mean they seceded anything to those Blue Chippers.

Anyone who doesn’t believe it wasn’t watching this year’s Super Bowl.

When quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger took the field for their respective teams they were speaking for those who felt ignored last week.

They were once part of the silent majority.

They failed what Southeast head coach Paul Maechtle calls “the eye-ball test,” a process too many college football coaches use in determining whether to offer a scholarship.

Simply put, it’s about height and weight and little else.

If everybody thought like that, Rodgers wouldn’t have been the Super Bowl MVP and Roethlisberger might be playing tight end for a local flag football team on Sundays.

Closer to home, Desmond Blue and Jared Williams, Southeast’s talented linebacker-running back duo, might be stuck in a quagmire of frustration instead of feeling optimistic. They have no offers to sign, but are in good company.

Rodgers and Roethlisberger had one offer between them when they finished high school.

Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews had no stars and walked on at USC where he didn’t become a starter until his fifth year.

The only school that wanted Pittsburgh Steelers four-time Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison was little Kent State.

The only five-star player in the Super Bowl was Pittsburgh linebacker LaMarr Woodley.

Maybe Harris put it all in perspective when he told “You can have all the talent in the world, if you’re not willing to work at it to get better you’re not going to be here long. The easy thing is to get to the league. The hard part is staying.”

Considered too small (6-feet) and too light to play defensive line, Harrison was cut four times during his early NFL career until he finally figured out how to be a linebacker.

Rodgers graduated high school at 5-foot-10, 165 pounds and was an “eyeball test” casualty forcing him to go to junior college. He eventually grew to 6-foot-2, 220 pounds.

Matthews played on the scout team his first year and wasn’t given a scholarship until his third season.

Pittsburgh backup defensive end Aaron Smith, a 13-year NFL veteran, had to go to Division II Northern Colorado because no other school wanted him.

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There is a belief among the so-called experts that a five star rating means a player is NFL bound, four stars is an All-Conference type guy and three stars usually means you can start in college.

But among the 106 players on the two Super Bowl rosters, 41 came from non-BCS schools. The Mid-American Conference, which often plays games in half empty stadiums, is the biggest winner.

There were 15 players from MAC schools on this year’s Super Bowl rosters, second only to the SEC, which has won the past five BCS national championships.

All three of Pittsburgh quarterbacks are from the MAC led by Roethlisberger (Miami of Ohio). It was his only Division I offer. Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham is from Bowling Green.

Green Bay starters Cullen Jenkins (DE) and Frank Zombo (LB) came from Central Michigan. Western Michigan produced Packers leading receiver Greg Jennings, and top rusher James Stark played at Buffalo.

Clay Matthews didn’t have a star coming out of high school; lowly two-star rated prospects included the Super Bowl’s leading receivers in Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson and Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace.

They were ignored on national day just like Blue and Williams. But they didn’t let it dampen their spirit.

They spoke out for the silent majority.