Cullowhee, N.C. – Former Western Carolina defensive back Keion Crossen – a rookie for the 2018 AFC Champion New England Patriots – is among several former NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) players that have advanced to the biggest game of their careers in Super Bowl LIII scheduled for Sunday evening in Atlanta, Ga.

Crossen is one of seven former NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) players expected to play in Sunday’s (Feb. 3) Super Bowl LIII at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Among those seven is fellow SoCon-member Keionta Davis, a second-year defensive lineman from Chattanooga.

A complete listing of all the former FCS players for both the AFC Champion New England Patriots and NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams was compiled by STATS FCS.

“I don’t know what to expect. It’s my first time, but I will definitely be excited,” said Crossen of the upcoming big game during Monday’s Super Bowl LIII Opening Night media day event held at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta. “I’m seeing right now that the atmosphere is pretty wild. It’s a live atmosphere and I really enjoy just the suspense of what’s going to happen. I will be ready.”

A four-year letter winner on defense and special teams for the Catamounts, Crossen was a seventh-round draft pick of the New England Patriots following the 2017 season. Just the eighth WCU player drafted all-time and the first since Andrew Jordan by the Minnesota Vikings in 1994, Crossen was taken with the 243rd overall pick.

As a rookie, Crossen saw his most extensive action on special teams and as a defensive substitution, recording 14 total tackles during the 2018 season including a career-high five stops in a Dec. 23 win over Buffalo. He did contribute in a big way in the thrilling overtime win against Kansas City in the AFC Championship game as he and teammate Jonathan Jones along with Devin McCourty over the top combined to limit the dangerous Tyreek Hill to just 42 receiving yards.

“It (rookie season) was a lot of adversity, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of learning experiences. But what you have to do is ignore the noise, ignore the hype and just keep grinding. Keep your head down and keep grinding. You’ll learn as time goes, as you get more experience you learn and you get better. When the time comes when the team needs you, you’re able to perform at your best,” said Crossen.

Former Catamount Keion Crossen at Super Bowl LIII Opening Night Media Day in Atlanta (Photo Gallery)

Crossen played in all 46 games of his WCU career recording 21 starts. He finished with 165 career tackles including 106 stops over his four years, recording three interceptions and a combined 19 pass break-ups. He was twice selected as the SoCon Defensive Player of the Week, first collecting honors in 2016 after returning an interception 65 yards and scoring on a fumble recovery from 19 yards out in a home win over VMI. As a senior, the former Northampton County High product was credited with eight tackles against Samford, posting a game-winning pass break-up of a Devlin Hodges’ pass attempt in the end zone in WCU’s upset win over 19th-ranked Samford.

Crossen is among an elite group of former Catamounts to play in the NFL – and an even smaller number to have the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl. The Garysburg, N.C., native is the fifth Catamount to make it to Super Sunday all-time – and the first since Willie Williams played in his second league championship game for the Pittsburgh Steelers back in 2006. Crossen is the second Patriot to play against the Rams in the Super Bowl as former Catamount WR David Patten hauled in a touchdown pass from Tom Brady in Super Bowl XXXVI. Patten earned three Super Bowl rings with New England.

The New England ties continue as former Catamount tailback and Carolina Panthers fullback Brad Hoover provided the opposition for Patten and the Pats in 2004.

Super Bowl LIII is slated for Sunday, Feb. 3 with a 6:30 pm kickoff. The third Super Bowl to be played in the city of Atlanta – but the first at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium that opened in 2017 – will be televised by CBS and streamed for free on or the CBS Sports app.

Former Catamounts to Play in the Super Bowl:

Keion Crossen, DB – New England Patriots, 2018

Tony Jones, OL – Denver Broncos, Super Bowl winners 1998, 1999

Willie Williams, DB – Pittsburgh Steelers, 1995, 2006; Super Bowl winner

David Patten, WR – New England Patriots, Super Bowl winners 2002, 2004 and 2005

Brad Hoover, FB – Carolina Panthers, 2004 (same game as Patten)


Related Article: Journey of former WCU standout Keion Crossen ends with trip to 2019 Super Bowl