COLUMBUS, Ohio – Former Ohio State football players A.J. Hawk, Ryan Pickett, Matt Wilhelm and Will Allen punched their tickets to Super Bowl XLV after helping the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers to NFC and AFC championships Sunday. Also making the trip to Dallas Feb. 6 are two NFL coaches with Ohio State ties — Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
Hawk, in his fifth season with the Packers, recorded six tackles in the win over the Bears Sunday. In 2010, the starting linebacker led the Packers with 111 total tackles in the regular season, including three interceptions. During his four years at Ohio State (2002-05), Hawk was a two-time first team All-American, winning the Lombardi Award during his senior season.
Pickett, a ten-year NFL veteran, is in his fifth season with the Packers and is headed to his second Super Bowl after participating at Super Bowl XXXVI for the St. Louis Rams during his rookie season. This season, the defensive lineman tallied 32 tackles with one sack for Green Bay. A three-year letterwinner at Ohio State (1998-2000), Pickett turned pro after his junior season as the 29th overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft.
Wilhelm, in his eighth season overall and first year as a Packer, has been a key component to the Green Bay special teams coverage. Wilhelm, a member of the 2002 National Championship team, was a first team All-American (2002) as the Buckeye’s starting linebacker.
Allen, who is in his seventh season and first with the Steelers, was inactive in the 24-19 victory over the New York Jets, but played in 14 games during the regular season with 12 total tackles at the safety position. As a Buckeye from 2001-03, Allen played in 50 career games and was a first team All-American in 2003. Allen is remembered by many Buckeye fans after making the interception in the final seconds of the 2002 Michigan game that sealed the Buckeyes trip to Fiesta Bowl.
LeBeau, a member of the 2010 NFL Hall of Fame class, had been the architect of the Steelers’ famed “zone blitz” for the past seven years. He has been involved in the NFL for 51 years, 14 as a player and the past 37 as a coach. In the 2010 postseason, LeBeau has guided the Steelers to first in total defense (207.5), first in rushing defense (52.5) and second in passing defense (155.0). A three-year letterwinner at Ohio State from 1956-58, LeBeau was a member of the 1957 National Championship team.
Capers, in his second season as the Packers’ defensive coordinator, was named “Coordinator of the year” by Sporting News in 2009 after he helped lead Green Bay to a No. 2 overall defensive ranking. In the 2010 NFL postseason, Capers has guided the Packers to third in total defense (282.3), second in rushing defense (69.7), first in sacks (30) and first in interceptions (six). Capers was the Ohio State defensive backs coach from 1982-83 under former head coach Earle Bruce before starting his NFL coaching career.
Super Bowl XLV will be held at Cowboys Stadium at 6:30 p.m. ET Feb. 6 in Dallas, Texas, televised by FOX.