Mississippi State linebackers coach Manny Diaz will watch today’s Super Bowl with a sense of pride.
Three linebackers from his previous stint in Starkville will be on the sidelines representing the Bulldogs. K.J. Wright starts for the Seattle Seahawks while Chris White contributes on special teams for New England and Deontae Skinner is on the Patriots practice squad.
White and Wright were both seniors on Diaz’s defense in 2010 and finished as the team’s top two tacklers. Skinner was breaking in during his redshirt freshman campaign and ended up being a three-year starter.
“All three guys are a testimony to the culture of player development at Mississippi State,” said Diaz. “All three are products of Mississippi high schools who learned there is only one way to work to become a champion.”
Wright is in his fourth season and won a Super Bowl ring with the Seahawks last year. The Olive Branch native led the team with 107 tackles this year including two sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
“K.J. had the respect of the entire locker room at MSU because of his work ethic and leadership,” said Diaz. “He brings those same traits to Seattle every day.”
White is in his second season with the Patriots after spending his first two years with Buffalo. The Vancleave and Gulf Coast Community College product appeared in 13 games this season making seven stops.
“Chris was the heart of our defense in 2010,” said Diaz. “He had a fantastic year at middle linebacker and that culminated with him winning the Conerly Trophy.”
Skinner saw action in seven games as a rookie including one start this year. The Macon native made 16 tackles and one sack before being returned to the practice squad during Week 9.