More than five years after leaving the UA for an NFL career, Earl Mitchell returns to campus...
Rob Gronkowski Joins Super Bowl Cats
The New England tight end, a UA alumnus, will play in the NFL title tilt on Feb. 5.
Former Wildcat tight end Rob Gronkowski will take his game to the top on Feb. 5 when he'll appear with his New England Patriots in the 46th edition of the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XLVI kicks off at 4:30 p.m. MST on NBC from Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium, with the AFC Champion Patriots against the NFC Champion New York Giants.
Gronkowski, who starred at the University of Arizona as a true freshman and sophomore in 2007 and 2008, establishing most Arizona tight end receiving marks, hurt his back in summer 2009 and did not play his junior year in Tucson. He entered the NFL draft in spring 2010 and was a second-round pick by New England with the 42nd overall selection.
This season, he set an NFL record for touchdowns by a tight end with 17, and also established notoriety for his post-touchdown spiking antics, called "Gronking" in Patriot fans' vernacular. He was picked for the 2012 Pro Bowl.
Gronkowski had 47 catches for 672 yards at UA his final season, with 10 scores – all three Wildcat marks for the position. He also owns the career marks in those categories with 75 receptions, 1,197 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was a first-team All-Pac-10 pick in 2008 and earned third-team AP All-America honors.
He's the 26th Wildcat to play in the Super Bowl following the most recent, running back Mike Bell of the 2010 New Orleans Saints. In all, former UA players will have appeared in 43 Super Bowls, led by All-Americans Glenn Parker (an offensive lineman with five for the Buffalo Bills and Giants) and Tedy Bruschi (linebacker with five for the Patriots). Arizona players have appeared for 16 different teams since the first, reciever Ron Gardin of the Baltimore Colts in 1971.
On the NFL.com website, Gronkowski appears with three other stars in an informal poll of who could win the MVP award – quarterbacks Tom Brady (Pats) and Eli Manning (Giants) and New York's defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Manning was leading the fan poll today.
Another former Wildcat will appear – but not play – in Super Bowl XLVI. Former offensive lineman Tom Quinn (lettered from 1988-90 at the UA) and will be on the sidelines as special teams coordinator for the Giants.