When the Baltimore Ravens take the field at Super Bowl XLVII, a Woodbury native will burst onto the grass for his first Super Bowl.
Bryant McKinnie’s road to the big game has taken him through two colleges, the NFL draft, a Pro Bowl and 11 years as a professional football player. But it all started at Woodbury Junior-Senior High School.
McKinnie, 33, who graduated from the high school in 1997, played defensive end for the Thundering Herd. He made 56 tackles and had 13 quarterback sacks as a senior. He also helped lead the team as captain to the state playoffs his senior year.
The two-sport athlete also competed in track and field for Woodbury.
McKinnie went off to junior college at Lackawanna College in Scranton, PA, where he continued to accumulate big plays and accolades on the field. At Lackawanna, McKinnie switched to offensive lineman, a position he continued at the University of Miami. After being red-shirted for a year, McKinnie played two years on the Hurricanes football squad.
McKinnie continued to dominate in college football. As the University of Miami notes, he was “considered by many observers the most dominating player in college football during his senior season. (He was) named the winner of the Outland Trophy recognizing the finest interior lineman in college football. (McKinnie) finished eighth in voting for the Heisman trophy.”
The seventh overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft, McKinnie has spent his whole NFL career in purple as an offensive tackle. He played nines seasons for the Minnesota Vikings—including suiting up in the 2010 Pro Bowl—before moving to the Baltimore Ravens in 2011. After the Ravens narrowly missed the Super Bowl in 2012, McKinnie will finally get his Super Bowl start Sunday—alongside teammate and fellow South Jerseyan quarterback Joe Flacco.
“It was a long journey,” McKinnie told The South Jersey Times. “I was just patient and waited my turn, and I finally got my turn.”
Perhaps McKinnie’s fate was set when he first played for Woodbury. It turns out the high school has more connections to Super Bowls past.
Zack Valentine, Woodbury’s head football coach and a phys ed teacher there, played three seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers and one for the Philadelphia Eagles. He won a Super Bowl ring his rookie year with the Steelers, and was part of Pittsburgh’s famed Steel Curtain.
Super Bowl XLVII kicks off at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3. The game will be broadcast on CBS.