Former Bods in big game

Cornerback Cary Williams has come on as a key defender for the formidable Baltimore Raven defense. Williams picked off New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady to seal the win and a Super Bowl berth. 

Luke Warnken, Washburn Review

The last few years Washburn has worked hard on putting itself on the map as a top-notch football program in Division II. 

Things got even better for the Ichabods recently after former Washburn football players, Cary Williams and Michael Wilhoite, made to the Super Bowl with their respective teams.

“It’s pretty unique,” said Craig Schurig, Washburn football head coach. “We’re very proud of the fact that Cary and Michael made it to the ultimate game.”

Williams has been a standout corner for the Baltimore Ravens, a team known to play tough, stout defense.  In the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots, Williams came up with a key interception that squashed any chance at a comeback.

Although he may not have had the same impact this season as Williams, Wilhoite has made a name for himself on the San Francisco 49ers. After spending the first half of the season on the practice squad, Wilhoite was activated to be on the playing squad and soon worked his way up as the special teams captain.

“Both of them have put in so much time and effort to get to that level,” said Schurig. “When you come from a school like Washburn, you’re not from a BCS school. You have to overcome a lot. People doubt you. A lot of things have to go your way and you have to have a lot of faith in yourself.”

Washburn got some added attention after ESPN NFL analyst Adam Schefter wrote a short article about how Washburn is the only college that has two players playing in the Super Bowl. The extra notoriety is starting to pay dividends for the Ichabods and Division II athletics, who don’t always get the attention that Division I programs do.

“It’s really a blessing for our program, for our school, for this town—shoot for this state,” said Schurig. “It shows that there’s a lot of good players that aren’t necessarily playing at BCS schools. It brings to light that ‘hey there’s some really good players out there. You don’t have to play at Alabama or LSU to get there.”

The two former Ichabods have created some buzz around the campus. 

“It’s great motivation for our present players, past players who played with them, and even guys who didn’t get to play with them,” said Schurig. “They have a lot of pride knowing that there is a couple Washburn guys playing in the Super Bowl.” 

Many of the Washburn football players are keeping a close on the former players setting the way for under-the-radar athletes.

“All of us have Twitter,” said Jaime Myers, a redshirt freshman linebacker. “All you see is the ESPN story re-tweeting how Washburn has two players in the Super Bowl when Alabama has only one. It’s exciting. Everybody is hyped for it. Everybody is rooting for both teams.”

The play of Williams and Wilhoite has opened the eyes of many teams looking to find that hidden gem. Maybe some former Washburn players such as quarterback Dane Simoneau and offensive lineman Brian Folkerts.