Former Spartan Plaxico Burress Prepares For Super Bowl Showdown Against Unbeaten New England
Jan. 30, 2008
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Former Michigan State wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who set a franchise-postseason record with 11 receptions for 151 yards in New York's 23-20 overtime victory over Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game, will make his first Super Bowl appearance Sunday, Feb. 3 against New England in Glendale, Ariz. Burress, an eight-year NFL veteran, spent his first five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and played in two AFC Championship Games, with both resulting in losses to the Patriots.
The 6-foot-5, 232-pound Burress caught 16 passes for 194 yards in New York's three postseason victories. He started all 16 regular-season games for the Giants and ranked among the NFC leaders in receptions (16th with 70) and receiving yards (10th with 1,025). His career-best 12 touchdown receptions ranked second in the NFC and fourth in the NFL. Burress had three 100-yard receiving games in 2007, including eight catches for 144 yards and three TDs in the season opener at Dallas.
During his collegiate career, Burress became the first Spartan player ever to record back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons (1998-99). Despite playing only two seasons, he still ranks among MSU's all-time Top 10 in receptions (eighth at 131), receiving yards (fifth at 2,155) and TD receptions (tied for third at 20). Burress had seven career 100-yard receiving games, including three in 1999.
A first-team All-Big Ten selection as a junior in 1999, Burress caught 66 passes for 1,142 yards and 12 TDs. In his final game in a Spartan uniform, he earned Florida Citrus Bowl MVP honors after catching 13 passes for 185 yards and three scores in MSU's 37-34 victory over Florida.
Burress, who elected to forego his senior season, was selected in the first round - No. 8 overall - by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2000 NFL Draft.
Current Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio served as secondary coach under Nick Saban during Burress' playing career in East Lansing.
"I remember Plaxico Burress as a great competitor," Dantonio said. "We had a couple of talented cornerbacks, in Amp Campbell and Renaldo Hill, who competed against Plaxico in practice every day, and those matchups were always pretty intense. Something I really learned to appreciate was his toughness, so I'm not at all surprised to see how productive he's been this season despite the ankle injury.
"Plaxico had a productive collegiate career, and he always played his best in the big games. As a big-bodied receiver, he created so many mismatch situations.
"Based upon what I saw in the NFC Championship Game, I have no doubt that Plaxico will be ready to go Super Bowl Sunday. He's hungry, and he's confident."
Although Burress is the only former Spartan player participating in Super Bowl XLII, Michigan State will be well represented in the coaching ranks with three former assistants patrolling the sidelines, including New England offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels, New England defensive coordinator Dean Pees and New York linebackers coach Bill Sheridan. During his six seasons (1995-2000) as an assistant coach at Michigan State, Dantonio worked alongside Pees and Sheridan.
McDaniels broke into the coaching profession as a graduate assistant at Michigan State under Saban in 1999-2000.
Pees spent three seasons (1995-97) as Michigan State's defensive coordinator under Saban. In 1997, the Spartans ranked among the NCAA leaders in rushing defense (No. 24 at 115.4 yards per game), passing defense (No. 16 with a 103.9 rating), total defense (No. 13 at 301.1 ypg.) and scoring defense (No. 14 at 16.9 points per game). In 1996, Michigan State stood No. 19 nationally in total defense, allowing 317.4 ypg., and held five of its 11 regular-season opponents under 100 yards rushing.
"Dean Pees is an outstanding defensive coordinator," Dantonio said. "In my first season at Michigan State under Nick Saban, Dean really helped bridge the gap for me from a scheme standpoint.
"He's extremely disciplined and focused, and he always has a great rapport with his players. Dean is very patient as a teacher, and he pays great attention to detail. He's also a great communicator, who always seems to be on the cutting edge with his defensive schemes because he's always seeking ways to improve.
"Dean has experienced success throughout his entire coaching career, from the high school and collegiate levels to the professional ranks. In my opinion, he'll go down in history as one of the all-time best defensive coordinators."
Sheridan, a Detroit native, served as Michigan State's linebackers coach for three years (1998-2000), including two seasons under Saban and one under Bobby Williams. During his tenure in East Lansing, he tutored Football News' first-team All-American Julian Peterson in 1999 and first-team All-Big Ten selection Josh Thornhill in 2000.
"Bill Sheridan comes from an outstanding coaching tree," Dantonio said. "Bill is extremely well organized, and like Dean Pees, he pays close attention to detail. He brings so much to the table because he has coached virtually every position on the defensive side of the football. At the college level, Bill was a great recruiter because he was a tireless worker on the road and knew how to build relationships."
In the sports medicine department, both New York Giants Vice President of Medical Services Ronnie Barnes and assistant athletic trainer Leigh Weiss have Michigan State ties. Barnes served as an assistant athletic trainer at Michigan State from 1975-79, working primarily with the wrestling program, while Weiss served as a graduate assistant on the Spartan training staff from 2004-06.
University of Phoenix Stadium, with a seating capacity of 65,000, is site of Super Bowl XLII and the facility's director of event services Tarena Smith was a four-year letterwinner for the Michigan State field hockey team, from 1979-82.
Additional Spartan Super Bowl Facts & Lists
Former Spartan greats Herb Adderley (Green Bay: I, II; Dallas: V, VI) and Earl Morrall (Baltimore: III, V; Miami: VII, VIII) each made four Super Bowl appearances and each won three championship rings. Dixon Edwards went a perfect three-for-three with the Dallas Cowboys, winning three Super Bowl (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX) championship rings.
Former Spartan All-American Sherman Lewis made five Super Bowl appearances as an assistant coach (San Francisco: XIX, XXIII, XXIV; Green Bay: XXXI, XXXII), winning four championship rings. Former Michigan State head coach George Perles won four Super Bowl rings (IX, X, XIII, XIV) as an assistant coach under Chuck Noll with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Former Spartans on All-Time Super Bowl Roster (36)
Former Spartan Coaches in The Super Bowl (12)
Former Spartan Assistant Coaches on All-Time Super Bowl Roster (2)
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