Super Bowl LVI will feature four former Hawkeyes, each with a chance to earn their first ring in the NFL. The Cincinnati Bengals will play the Los Angeles Rams inside SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday, and two Hawkeyes will hoist the trophy, no matter the outcome. The Bengals have former Iowa offensive lineman Riley Reiff and defensive lineman Mike Daniels. The two veterans in the league have 20 combined years of experience and will get their first taste of the NFL’s biggest game. The Rams will feature former Hawkeye defensive back Jake Gervase and offensive lineman Alaric (AJ) Jackson.
Reiff is in his first year with Cincinnati after spending his 10-year NFL career in both Detroit and Minnesota. However, he will not be suiting up for the game. Reiff was sidelined and placed on the injured reserve after suffering an ankle injury in mid-December. The former Hawkeye offensive lineman and the first-round draft pick is participating in his first Super Bowl.
He is joined by his former teammate in Iowa City, Mike Daniels. The defensive lineman spent his entire career with the Green Bay Packers before a short, one-year stint with Detroit in 2019. Daniels joined the Bengals in 2020 and currently sits on the practice squad and will not dress for the game. The 6’-0” and 310-pound defensive tackle is a former Pro-Bowler and fourth-round pick in the NFL draft who will also be playing for his first ring. Both Reiff and Daniels were selected during the 2012 NFL draft.
Los Angeles Rams
On the Rams’ side of the ball, both of the former Hawkeyes will be suiting up for the final game of the NFL season. Gervase is out of Davenport, Iowa, and has been with the Rams for three seasons. The defensive back went undrafted in 2019, but that was no issue for him. Gervase walked on at Iowa in 2015 to start his five-year career in Iowa City. He has since climbed his way up the practice squad roster for the Rams and will be competing for his first ring on Sunday.
Jackson is the youngest of the four Hawkeyes playing on Super Sunday. The 22-year-old offensive lineman went undrafted in 2021 but made the 53-man roster the following August. Jackson made his NFL debut this past October and will be gearing up for the Rams in the Super Bowl in his first NFL season. With a win, it would be the second year in a row that a rookie from Iowa wins a Super Bowl. Tristin Wirfs did it last season with Tampa Bay.
In Kirk Ferentz’s 23 seasons as the head coach of the Hawkeyes, he has produced countless NFL players. Of that mix, 25 of his former players have suited up for a Super Bowl. The list includes guys like Bob Sanders, Dallas Clark, Marshal Yanda, Tyler Sash, and Jonathan Babineaux. The model of consistency that Ferentz has built is not only evident at the college level. He turns his guys from walk-ons and 3-star athletes into NFL players and Super Bowl champions. A former Hawkeye has appeared in the Super Bowl in 17 of the last 18 seasons. No matter the outcome of Super Bowl LVI, a Hawkeye will lift the Lombardi Trophy for the 12th time.