Sure, it’s not the trademarked Final Four in college basketball postseason terms, but it is the remaining four teams left vying for Super Bowl glory in the National Football League.
Green Bay Packers. San Francisco 49ers. Tennessee Titans. Kansas City Chiefs. Two Illinois Fighting Illini remain. Let’s single them out for being part of the Illini Family and hope that both of their teams win this weekend... maybe. Depending on where your allegiances lie.
And then there were two.
Fascinating point to make: Both of these players are from the same 2014 Illinois Fighting Illini recruiting class. Both were 3-star prospects. Both are from the midwest. The first went the JUCO route before enrolling at a Power 5 school. The second was a mid-level 3-star from Chicago’s southside suburbs.
Green Bay Packers
Geronimo Allison, wide receiver: The four-year pro caught the only ball thrown his way in a tough game against the Seattle Seahawks in the Divisional Round.
The 11-yard reception was on 3rd-and-8 with about four minutes to go in the fourth quarter, and Allison slid to the ground as he securely caught ball extending the Packers drive. It would end up being one of the biggest plays of the game.
Fellow wide receiver Davante Adams was targeted 11 times having himself a record-breaking night, and tight end Jimmy Graham was critical down the stretch. At this rate and looking ahead to Green Bay’s upcoming matchup with the San Francisco 49ers, Allison will have the opportunity to make more plays in the passing game thanks to all of the attention Adams and Graham are sure to garner from SF’s defense.
Kansas City Chiefs
Nick Allegretti, offensive lineman: It might be tough for the former Illini who started 36 consecutive games for the orange and blue back in college to watch his Kansas City Chiefs from the bench, but his role should not be diminished.
Every NFL starter has a backup, and injuries in the NFL happen all of the time. Allegretti earned his spot on the 53-man roster by playing excellent football in the preseason, and by showing he’s capable of playing multiple positions, too. He can play center or either guard spot, and he is always ready to go should his number be called.
Even if Nick Allegretti does not play against the Titans (or in the Super Bowl), the fact that he’s held in such high regard by head coach Andy Reid likely means a starting spot in the coming year(s) as the O-lineman continues his development.