Johnson and Harris Advance To The Super Bowl With The Broncos

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Two Kansas football alums will be making their first trip to the Super Bowl as members of the Denver Broncos as linebacker Steven Johnson and cornerback Chris Harris helped the organization capture the National Football League’s AFC title en route to a trip to Super Bowl XLVII with a 26-16 win over the New England Patriots Sunday afternoon.

“Winning this game and being able to go to the Super Bowl is a dream come true,” said Johnson. “I have been playing this game since I was five years old and it has always been my dream.”

Johnson, a second-year NFL player, saw action in Sunday’s game on special teams, but did not record any statistics. He has been a key contributor to the Broncos’ special teams all season, while also seeing some time on defense. Johnson has eight total tackles on the season, with six of them being solo stops.

A Media, Pa., native, Johnson lettered at Kansas 2008-11, and led the Jayhawks in tackles as both a junior (95) and senior (124). He earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors in 2011 and was selected to serve as a team captain by his KU teammates.

“From everything I have been through from high school to prep school to Kansas and now with the Broncos, I have been truly blessed,” said Johnson. “I have so much more to accomplish and hopefully this is just the beginning of a great career in the NFL. I am so thankful to be a part of an amazing organization with the Broncos and I am proud to represent Kansas in the Super Bowl.”

Harris, who is in his third year in the NFL, had been one of Denver’s most reliable defenders all season, but suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the Broncos victory over San Diego last week. He was unable to play in Sunday’s game, but has been a key cog in advancing Denver deep into the post season.

“I am kind of at a loss for words,” said Harris. “This is one of the greatest feelings. It was hard to not be out there playing, but I still have a role on the team and that is to talk to my teammates about what I see out there and help them execute the game plan.”

A native of Bixby, Okla., Harris lettered at KU from 2007-10. He was a part of two KU bowl wins as the he helped lead the Jayhawks to both the 2008 Orange Bowl and 2008 Insight Bowl victories. Harris finished his KU career with 290 tackles, which ranks third all-time among Jayhawk defense backs. As a freshman starter in 2007, Harris earned Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year honors and was a Sporting News Freshman All-American and All-Big 12 Freshman Team honoree.

“I have worked so hard to be able to play in the NFL,” said Harris. “To be on a great team and have been able to contribute to our success is a dream come true. To make it this far is not easy. We still have one more game to go to finish the deal. Then I will be ecstatic.”

Johnson and Harris are the first Jayhawks to advance to the Super Bowl since Justin Hartwig picked up a Super Bowl ring in 2009 as a member of the Pittsburg Steelers. The duo becomes the 26th and 27th Jayhawks to go to the Super Bowl with 20 KU players having picked up Super Bowl rings.

The Broncos will take on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, N.J. The game is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. (CT) start with a live broadcast on FOX Sports. The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.