N.C. State's Joe Thuney, left, and UNC’s Mack Hollins, right, will play against each other on Sunday in Super Bowl LII. Thuney plays for the Patriots, Hollins plays for the Eagles. Ethan Hyman, Robert Willett ehyman@newsobserver.com, rwillett@newsobserver.com
N.C. State's Joe Thuney, left, and UNC’s Mack Hollins, right, will play against each other on Sunday in Super Bowl LII. Thuney plays for the Patriots, Hollins plays for the Eagles. Ethan Hyman, Robert Willett ehyman@newsobserver.com, rwillett@newsobserver.com

NC State

One played for UNC, the other for NC State. Now they’re Super Bowl rivals, too.

February 02, 2018 01:07 PM

Joe Thuney and Mack Hollins may not realize it, but they are the only two players representing the state of North Carolina in Sunday’s Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.

Former N.C. State standout Thuney, a second-year offensive lineman for the New England Patriots, will be trying to win his second straight Super Bowl. Hollins, a former standout at North Carolina, is a rookie wide receiver with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Thuney has been steady for the Patriots after being chosen in the third round of the 2016 NFL draft with the 78th overall pick. Thuney has started every game at left guard over the past two seasons, including the 34-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons in last year’s Super Bowl.

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Thuney played in 41 games at N.C. State from 2012-15. He was named a first-team All-American by USA Today after his senior season.

Hollins totaled 16 catches for 226 yards and a touchdown for the Eagles during the regular season. His touchdown came on a 64-yard pass from Carson Wentz against the Washington Redskins. He caught one pass for 9 yards in the Eagles’ 15-10 playoff win over Atlanta on Jan. 13 in the divisional round.

Hollins, who walked on at UNC, played in 47 games from 2013-16 at UNC and caught 81 passes for 1,667 yards and 20 touchdowns, including eight each in 2014 and 2015.

Hollins helped UNC to a big win over Thuney’s Wolfpack squad in 2015. Hollins had three catches for 65 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown in the Tar Heels’ 45-34 win over N.C. State.

Thuney got to celebrate last year’s Super Bowl win with former N.C. State teammate Jacoby Brissett, who was a backup QB.

It’s a light year for Super Bowl players from North Carolina. The NFL’s championship game has the fewest players from North Carolina since 2011 when the Packers and the Steelers played in Super Bowl XLV. That game had just Green Bay defensive end C.J. Wilson, an East Carolina product. During the past 10 years there have been as many as six participants from the state in a Super Bowl, including two years ago in Super Bowl 50 when the Carolina Panthers lost to the Denver Broncos.

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North Carolina players in the past 10 Super Bowls

New England vs. Philadelphia, Feb. 4, 2018

Joe Thuney, NCSU, New England

Mack Hollins, UNC, Philadelphia

New England 34, Atlanta 28 (OT), Feb. 5, 2017

Joe Thuney, NCSU, New England

Jacoby Brissett, NCSU, New England

Justin Hardy, ECU, Atlanta

Ayodeji Olatoye, NC A&T, Atlanta

Denver 24, Carolina 10, Feb. 7, 2016

Jerricho Cotchery, NCSU, Carolina

Kenny Anunike, Duke, Denver

Juwan Thompson, Duke, Denver

Tre Boston, UNC, Carolina

Sylvester Williams, UNC, Denver

Josh Bush, Wake Forest, Denver

New England 28, Seattle 24, Feb. 1, 2015

Steven Hauschka, NCSU, Seattle

J.R. Sweezy, NCSU, Seattle

Russell Wilson, NCSU, Seattle

Cooper Helfet, Duke, Seattle

Seattle 43, Denver 8, Feb. 2, 2014

Steven Hauschka, NCSU, Seattle

J.R. Sweezy, NCSU, Seattle

Russell Wilson, NCSU, Seattle

Nate Irving, NCSU, Denver

Cooper Helfet, Duke, Seattle

Steve Vallos, Wake Forest, Denver

Baltimore 34, San Francisco 31, Feb. 3, 2013

Michael McAdoo, UNC, Baltimore

Vonta Leach, ECU, Baltimore

Daniel Kilgore, Appalachian State, San Francisco

N.Y. Giants 21, New England 17, Feb. 5, 2012

Andre Brown, NCSU, N.Y. Giants

Marvin Austin, UNC, N.Y. Giants

Hakeem Nicks, UNC, N.Y. Giants

Linval Joseph, ECU, N.Y. Giants

Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25, Feb. 6, 2011

C.J. Wilson, ECU, Green Bay

New Orleans 31, Indianapolis 17, Feb. 7, 2010

DeMario Pressley, NCSU, New Orleans

Jeff Saturday, UNC, Indianapolis

Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23, Feb. 1, 2009

Adrian Wilson, NCSU, Arizona

Patrick Bailey, Duke, Pittsburgh

Willie Parker, UNC, Pittsburgh

Jeff Reed, UNC, Pittsburgh

Greg Warren, UNC, Pittsburgh