NFL: McClellan proud of Marshall's presence in Super Bowl
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Baltimore Ravens linebacker Albert McClellan hasn't seen the list of colleges with the most players in Super Bowl XLVII.
But he knows it's out there, and he knows the math. He knows that most of the colleges in America are looking up at the Thundering Herd on that list.
"It goes to show that, at Marshall, we have players that can compete at the same level as any other D-I school in the country," he said. "That's really big."
The Herd has four alumni on Super Bowl rosters, McClellan and defensive back Omar Brown of the Ravens and defensive back C.J. Spillman and receiver Randy Moss of the San Francisco 49ers.
Where Marshall sits on the list depends on which list you're using. Counting members of the active roster and the practice squad, only Miami (seven) and Oregon (five) have more.
Looking at just the active roster, only Miami's five eclipses Marshall.
"A lot of other teams that come from big programs, their players say, 'You came from small Marshall,' and things like that," McClellan said. "But Marshall, as you can see, is a school where a lot of guys can come through and shine and really show their talent."
McClellan, in his third year in professional football, backs up Courtney Upshaw at strong-side linebacker.
A three-time all-Conference USA pick and the 2006 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, he has 49 tackles, 36 solo, with two pass breakups and a sack this season.
Brown, also an all-C-USA pick, joined McClellan on the active roster in Week 15 after signing this year as a rookie free agent. He has recorded three tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
For the Niners, Moss returned to the NFL after a one-year absence. A Biletnikoff winner and Heisman finalist who is one of Marshall's most decorated players, Moss has 28 catches for 434 yards and three touchdowns. Spillman, a two-time all-C-USA second-teamer, was named a Pro Bowl alternate on special teams this year, recording 11 tackles.
"We've got four guys doing a lot of work for their team in this one big game," he said. "Our talent level really shows."
Both teams are reaping the benefits of bold decisions from their head coaches.
Niners Coach Jim Harbaugh stuck with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback once Alex Smith had recovered from a mid-season concussion, despite Smith's 104.1 passer rating.
Harbaugh's brother, Ravens Coach John Harbaugh, fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron after a Week 14 loss to Washington and replaced him with quarterbacks coach and former Indianapolis Coach Jim Caldwell.
The 6-foot-2, 245-pound McClellan said he couldn't worry about a move he couldn't control, but said there's no doubt the Ravens are reaping the benefits of the change.
"It was a gut decision," he said. "And they went with it. And as they did, it's pretty much paying off."
McClellan said the Herd players from the two sides haven't talked to each other yet, but figures once the Niners and Ravens hit New Orleans, they'll be able to catch up.
But beyond the glitz and glamour of the Super Bowl is each player's mission. A Super Bowl ring would be the first for all four Marshall players, and bright spotlights won't get it for them. Darkened film rooms will.
"It's going to be a great experience, something I can always tell my kids and grandkids," McClellan said. "But this is a business trip, so we can't live too much in the life this year. It's about dedication and hard work paying off.
"Hard work doesn't just mean on the playing field or in the weight room, it also means in the film room," he added. "We'll spend our time studying and the rest will take care of itself."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.